- Macross Missile Massacre: In "Panic in the Sky". They were transport vessels full of super soldiers sent to kill the League.
- Mafia Princess - Huntress was one of these -- and did not know. She finds out the hard way.
- Magic Pants - Mandragora's pants alone among his clothes survive Black Canary's Canary Cry, thank God. Also used in the case of Eiling's monster form.
- Magic Versus Science - Tala and Luthor argue about this in "Alive".
- Magical Defibrillator - Hawkgirl's mace.
- Magicians Are Wizards: When Zatanna closes out her show, she tends to perform actual magic to give the audience a big finale. Instead of grabbing a rabbit, she pulled a member of the audience out of her hat.
- Make Me Wanna Shout - Black Canary's Canary Cry and Silver Banshee.
- Man of Wealth and Taste - Lex Luthor mostly.
- Maniac Monkeys: Gorilla Grodd (An ape, not a monkey, but it is the closet trope we have) is one of the primary villains that the League faces.
- Marshmallow Hell - Wonder Woman is carrying a shrunk-down Atom in her hands. She needs both of these to fight. Guess where she stuffs him?
- Mass Hypnosis - Joker tries this, though it is more of Mass Insanity
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It is never definitively established if Hawkman's theory about his and Hawkgirl's past lives in Ancient Egypt is true or not. The other characters are never truly convinced, and his beliefs might all be the result of damaged Thanagarian technology, but much of the story of their past lives does match their current relationships and characters.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Victor Rivers had trouble voicing the character of Hro Talak in "Starcrossed" as he descends into violence over the course of the episode. In real life Victor Rivers is a speaker and activist fighting Domestic Abuse and found the scenes where he essentially beats Hawkgirl to be particularly difficult.
- Meaningful Funeral - In "Herafter". Of course, Superman comes back.
- Mechanical Evolution - AMAZO's ability to evolve was so potent that by his second appearance he was already beyond being a machine.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Invoked by Aresia in "Fury" although she and about two other women are the only ones who actually think that's true. Even the other Amazons are shocked at her attempted Gendercide
- Mercy Kill - Hawkgirl putting the reanimated Grundy out of his misery (She even compares it to Old Yeller)
- Mercy Lead - Given to the villains in "Destroyer".
- The Messiah - Flash. No, really.
- Messiah Creep - Flash, again.
- Metaphorgotten: Galatea has a pretty funny one:
- Another good one appears in "The Once And Future Thing".
Chronos: Skedaddle! Time is money! ... Actually, time is the non-spatial continuum in which events occur linearly, usually in the direction of increased entropy. But the clowns seem to relate better to the money thing.
- Meteor Move - Go Superman!! Give it to that murdering bastard Darkseid!!
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Vandal Savage in 'Hereafter'.
- Mind Control: Grodd's signature move.
- Mind Over Manners - Martian Manhunter
- Mind Rape
- Doctor Destiny gains the power to enter and twist peoples' dreams in "Only A Dream."
- In "Hearts and Minds", Despero is using the flame of Pythar to empower legions of soldiers, but instead decides to mentally rape Katma Tui and Hawkgirl into personal slaves.
- Gorilla Grodd, after he eschews Mind Control and just uses his Psychic Powers to cause debilitating pain in his enemies.
- Ace of the Royal Flush gang has the ability to make you insane just by looking at you, even when not in her physical presence. Simply seeing her on television can transfer her powers to you.
- Carter Hall (Hawkman) was imprinted with the log of an eight-thousand year old Thanagarian ship, convincing him he was the reincarnation of Thanagarian Katar Hol. The actual imprinting was accompanied by him screaming in pain and passing out, and when he recounted it later he could barely stammer about "the feedback" when the possibility of damaged technology was brought up.
- Minored in Asskicking - Batman, naturally.
- Mirror Universe - "A Better World".
- Missing the Good Stuff - Canadian broadcaster YTV had the de facto world premiere of the season finale, "Epilogue". Unfortunately, a technical glitch caused "The Shopping Bags" (a consumer program airing on another channel owned by YTV's parent) to air instead of the first three minutes. They at least re-ran the episode, in full, the next week.
- Mission Control - J'onn functions as one in Unlimited; after he takes a sabbatical, the role is taken up by Mr. Terrific.
- The Mole - Up until the finale of Justice League, Hawkgirl.
- Monowheel Mayhem: Due to Vandal Savage's time-tampering, World War II is filled with Nazis War Wheels, mammoth war machines that overwhelm Allied tanks and infantry alike. The War Wheels are originally from the Blackhawk series, and the Blackhawk's themselves appear to help defeat the Axis.
- Monster Clown - The original. Due to the Bat-embargo, however, he only appeared in two storylines, yet still delivered some of the best lines in the show.
- Monster Sob Story - Vandal Savage in "Hereafter".
- Monumental Battle - Most notably in "Destroyer" but also in some other episodes.
- Mook Chivalry: When Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, and the Trickster decide to kill the Flash once and for all, they each takes turns with their own death traps one at a time. Eventually, Captain Cold points out that taking turns is dumb, and they decide to jump him together.
- Morality Chain: Supergirl's Twin Telepathy with her clone Galatea was slowly causing Galatea to develop a conscience, making it harder for Galatea to work as a hitman.
- Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate - Where to begin?
- Most Common Superpower - Lampshaded with Galatea, which makes sense since she is pretty much a villainous Expy for Power Girl.
- Most Definitely Not a Villain - "The Great Brain Robbery".
- Mr. Vice Guy - Booster Gold.
- Ms. Fanservice - Black Canary was the only reason Green Arrow stayed on with the league.
- Muggle Power - Addressed very directly with the story arc about the US govt. and Amanda Waller's distrust of the League.
- Mundane Utility: John Stewart uses his power ring to hold open elevator doors when he does not feel like taking the stairs.
- Murder the Hypotenuse - Played straight once and subverted twice:
- In the episode "Metamorphosis", a squicky example occurs when an extremely Overprotective Dad (who loved his daughter maybe a bit too much) did not like Rex Mason, his daughter's fiancée. He attempted to have Mason killed, while also forwarding his research outside of standard safety protocols, and when that failed he pretended that the one who told him to do it was Green Lantern, Mason's old friend. He then shows Rex a photo of John Stewart and his fiancée embracing, which had been a brief hug to support her following Mason's accident but was taken out of context, and the fiancée then invoked this trope himself as he went after Green Lantern in a rage.
- Subverted in "Hunter's Moon." When the Love Triangle between Shayera Hol, Mari, and John Stewart begins to develop the two women are ambushed by Thanagarian soldiers who want to put Hawkgirl on trial for war crimes. Vixen is captured and immediately offers to help the Thanagarians capture Hawkgirl in exchange for her own freedom - she even points out that they want the same man as a reason for the Thanagarians to trust her. However, as soon as she gains their trust she disables her guards and hijacks their ship in order to save herself and Shayera. The two women actually become good friends, despite the continuous friction of the tension between Shayera and John. When the triangle evolves into a Love Quadrilateral with the addition of Carter "Hawkman" Hall, who believes himself to be the reincarnated true love of Shayera, the trope is subverted again when the Shadowthief offers him John's life. Hawkman, being the hero, refuses and frees Stewart so they can defeat the Shadowthief together.
- Musical Episode: "This Little Piggy," which featured songs performed by both Circe and Batman.
- Must Make Amends - Hawkgirl.
- My Eyes Are Up Here - Zatanna to B'wana Beast.
- My God, What Have I Done? - Vandal Savage is a bit unhappy that he destroyed the world and wiped out humanity.
- My Grandson, Myself - Vandal Savage poses as his own grandson during his Civilian Villain stage in "Maid of Honor".
- Myth Arc - The second season episode "A Better World" began a storyline that reached through the following two seasons. It was unintended by the producers, they were just trying to make a couple of good episodes and did not plan to continue the story past those episodes. The arc eventually (retroactively) was pushed back to the final episode of Superman's series, as his actions in that episode prompted much of the government involvement that was expanded when the U.S. government realised how much of a threat the expanded JL potentially posed to the population. Again, the entire thing was unintentional, but it fit together awfully well.
- Mythology Gag:
- Martian Manhunter enjoys Oreos in "Comfort and Joy," which are his Trademark Favorite Food in the comics.
- Most episode titles are based on various DC comic series, like "Brave and the Bold" and a clever one in "Wild Western Stories."
- In "A Once And Future Thing," where members of the League go to the future and meet an older Batman, when the current Batman is warned that things in the future are different he asks his older self, "Are criminals still a superstitious and cowardly lot?"
- "A Better World" nudges the fourth wall with the famous Superman/Doomsday fight ending with alternate-universe Superman lobotomizing Doomsday with heat vision, and one of Batman's passwords being the date of his first appearance in Detective Comics (91939).
- In "Secret Society" Grodd's society (Himself/Sinestro/Shade/Giganta/Clayface/Killer Frost) charging toward the League in a balls-out glorious homage to the old Challenge of the Superfriends intro.
- "Chaos at the Earth's Core" opened with several heroes fighting a giant turtle rampaging through Tokyo. The turtle itself is actually from an old Jimmy Olsen comic, which featured Jimmy turning into that giant turtle. Commentary on the DVD reveals that they chose not to go that exact route in order to avoid having to explain why the giant turtle turned into a naked Jimmy Olsen when it was defeated, but the turtle itself was left in as an homage. The turtle is also a Shout-Out / Expy of Gamera. Not only does the giant turtles attack Japan, but it also flies by tucking it's limbs into it's shell, then spinning like a top as flames shoot out of the openings. Ask someone who is remotely familiar with Japanese monster movies to name where "a giant turtle that attacks Japan, and flies by spinning through the air with flames jetting out the openings in his shell" comes from and see if they answer JLU.
- In the Task Force X episode, Plastique is tended to by Captain Atom after she is injured and left behind by the rest of the team. In the comics, the two end up getting married.
- In "Injustice For All", in the first fight between Lex's group and the League, a statue of Zan and Jayna is smashed.
- When Wonder Woman needs to switch from civilian clothes to superhero outfit in "To Another Shore", she uses the transformation sequence from the 1970s Lynda Carter TV show.
- General Eiling giant mutated form is identical to the 'Shaggy Man' body he transfers his mind into in the comics, although the character, method and storyline are completely different.
- Nay Theist - Hawkgirl, and Thanagarians in general, renounced Ichthultu and no longer bow down to any higher power. She believes in Ichthultu, though--enough to smash his brain in with her energy mace.
- Necktie Leash - Huntress likes to do this to The Question
- Never Say "Die" - Completely averted, as characters never shied away from talking bluntly about death or killing.
- Never Sleep Again: In one episode, Batman and the Martian Manhunter fight a man who can trap people within their dreams. Batman and J'onn have to try to stay awake to fight him.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Hawkgirl in "Eclipsed" when she smashes the crystal, which turns the one-possession device into a multi-possession device. An Oh Crap by the Flash follows as soon as he realized what she had done.
- Superman destroying Lexor city while fighting with Captain Marvel in "Clash".
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Blackhawk Island is protected by, among other things, Flying Robot Gunsharks.
- No Body Left Behind - A couple of times most notably in "Destroyer".
- No Celebrities Were Harmed - Harv Hickman in "A Knight of Shadows" used the Philosopher's Stone to wish for money and women. By the time the episode takes place, he is a magazine publisher (Flash reads it for the articles), owning a familiar-looking mansion complete with a Grotto. Some of his lines to Wonder Woman
probablycount as Getting Crap Past the Radar.
- No Gravity for You - When Lex Luthor and The Flash go through a Freaky Friday Flip, Mr. Terrific pulls this to try and stop Luthor. Unfortunately, Lex figures out how to fly in the zero gravity, prompting Mr. Terrific to turn it back on.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: When Shayera and Mari are exercising in the League gym Mari, while running on a treadmill, advises Shayera to go easy on the weight machine since men often do not enjoy the ripped, bulky look.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown - Frequently.
- No Immortal Inertia - Happens to Mordred in "Kid Stuff".
- No Medication for Me: The Trickster suffers from delusional episodes that are treated with regular medication; when he stops taking his medication he relapses into villainous activity. He explains that he feels he no longer needs his medication, since he takes when he is feeling "down." Flash points out to him that he is wearing his villain costume again, which the Trickster was not even aware of, and that it is important he turn himself in to the police and resume his medication. Trickster agrees after Flash promises to visit him and play darts (The soft kind).
- No One Could Survive That - Batman believes this of Darkseid in "Twilight", but Superman is more skeptical. Oddly for this trope Darkseid does not survive. He gets better through.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup
- Won't Work On Me: Downpour versus Aquaman
King of the Seas, remember?
- No Swastikas - Played straight, but justified in that Savage's symbols were used after he usurped Hitler. However, the effect is the same as if they had used swastikas, as his logo is essentially the Double-S of the SS.
- No Waterproofing in the Future - In "Injustice For All", Batman shorts out Lex Luthor's stasis field by spitting a mouthful of water into it.
- Noble Demon - Etrigan, literally. He's a "good" guy who happens to be a fire-breathing monster from Hell.
- Noodle Incident: "The Savage Times" begins with most of the League returning from a mission in space. Green Lantern complains about how he had to use his ring to drag everybody else across the galaxy, and Flash consoles him with the fact that they at least won the battle, but what they actually did is never expounded upon.
- Not Brainwashed:
- Grodd's accomplice in "The Brave and the Bold".
- Of the "Not Blackmailed" variety, Task Force X is filled with criminals forced into service to the US government, led in the field by Colonel Flagg. At the end of the episode, Deadshot asks Flagg just what it is that Amanda Waller has on him which makes him such a loyal and determined lackey. Flagg explains that she does not have anything on him.
- Not Growing Up Sucks: Mordred.
- Not Quite Flight: The Flash once improvised "flight" when falling to his death during "I Am Legion." By spinning his arms he created a cushion of air, likening himself to a helicopter before comically falling to the ground.
- Not So Above It All - Martian Manhunter playing Brawlin' Bots with Flash.
- Not the Fall That Kills You: Wonder Woman rescued Steve Trevor after he was forced to abandon the plane he was flying, and caught him with only a few feet to spare before he hit the ground. He showed absolutely no negative effects from his sudden deceleration.
- Not Using the Z Word:
- Amazo, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter are rarely called by those names. Amazo is usually "The Android", and Wonder Woman is Diana and Martian Manhunter is J'onn to their teammates. Likewise, in the episode "Metamorphosis," Metamorpho's name was not spoken aloud as such. The creators avoided saying some of the villains names because they noticed a lot of them ended in the letter 'O.' (Amazo, Despero, etc.)
- In "The Savage Time," Adolf Hitler's name is never spoken, he is referred to as "The old Fuhrer" and, on one occasion, as a raving idiot. Likewise, the Torture Technician that Vandal Savage has interrogate J'onn J'onzz is only addressed as Josef.
- Not What I Signed on For - Lex Luthor's reaction when he finds out what Grodd actually has planned for their Legion of Doom...not because he felt it was too evil, but because turning the world into apes was really stupid.
- Nothing Personal: Although the Question explained that his hatred of Lex Luthor was brobdingnagian, he points out that his actions are not personal, but just a necessary step to keep the League from turning on humanity.
- Now I Know What to Name Him - Implied with Shayera at the end of "Ancient History", after John tells her about his meeting of Warhawk (their future son) and that even though he loves her he will not be destiny's puppet. She goes to Batman, sits down beside him and gently requests; "Tell me about my son".
- Nuke'Em: General Wade Eiling's first thought after he is told to fix the Doomsday situation is to drop a nuclear warhead on Doomsday and, by extension, Superman and San Baquero. Since Eiling planned to get to Superman eventually and had long wanted to stop drug smuggling from San Baquero, he considered it killing three birds with one stone.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The episodes "The Brave and the Bold", "Divided We Fall", and "Flash and Substance" shows that Flash only acts like a fool.
- Odd Friendship:
- Supergirl and Green Arrow bond in "Initiation," the first episode of Unlimited, and are frequently shown conversing and cooperating throughout the series. She and Green Lantern also spend a lot of screen-time together and banter freely and warmly, but they have a more traditional mentor/student role instead of partnership.
- Hawkgirl and Solomon Grundy.
- Officer O'Hara: In "Legends."
- Official Couple - Several, including Superman/Lois, Green Arrow/Black Canary, Supergirl/Brainiac 5, and Question/Huntress, also Warhawk's existence implies John Stewart and Shayera, though at the end of the series they are no longer a couple. Word of God has stated they will get together eventually.
- Oh Crap:
- When Cronos throws Chucko into the Cretaceous period.
Chucko (to a T. Rex): You think I'm scared?! I'll be running this place in a we-
- Green Lantern and Green Arrow, when Superman asks them the name of the "boy" who kept Supergirl in the future. He is named Brainiac. But it is a nice version of him. Seriously.
- Lex Luthor and the Legion Of Doom travel halfway across the universe to find Brainiac, who Lex Luthor wants to fuse again with to recover godlike power. They find the supposed essence of Brainiac in the cosmic dust and reconstitute him... only to find out it is NOT Brainiac, but DARKSEID. MASS Oh Crap!
- Waller realizing that Luthor played her, immediately followed by Hamilton realizing Luthor's plan. He's stolen enough Cadmus tech to build himself a second, mindless AMAZO, and then transfer his mind into it.
- Oh My Gods - Wonder Woman is a serial offender, it becomes a plot point in "The Terror Beyond."
- Old Master: Named, appropriately enough, The Master. He was one of Batman's martial arts trainers and also serves as an advisor to the deceased Deadman.
- Ominous Latin Chanting - In the climax of "The Once and Future Thing: Time Warped" when Chronos attempts to remake the Universe in his own image.
- One of Us:
- One Steve Limit - Averted, as both John Stewart and J'onn J'onzz regularly go by their real names, though the pronunciation is slightly different (J'onn is pronounced closer to the French Jean.) Flash sneaks in a gag about "The Two Johns" at one point.
- One-Winged Angel - The first to appear in the series would be Hades, who at first shows up looking like a regular guy in Greek-esque armor. Later, his face gets burned off and we see "his true face"; a grey-skinned, demonic-looking monster, with horns, an elongated jaw and multiple forked tongues.
- Only in It For the Money - Batman is able to convince the Ultra-Humanite to double-cross the Injustice Gang by offering double what Lex Luthor was paying. Humanite then donates it to public broadcasting.
- Opponent Switch: The Original Seven opt to do this against the fake Justice Lords in "Divided We Fall" so as to avoid their respective Hannibal Lecture.
- Opt Out - Captain Marvel
- Our Hero Is Dead - Superman in "Hereafter".
- Our Ghosts Are Different/Our Souls Are Different - Deadman and Gentleman Ghost.
- Our Wormholes Are Different - They not only provide Faster-Than-Light Travel (which the League does not share with the world), it also sucks nasty dark matter out of the Sun.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Solomon Grundy
- Out of Character Alert: Flash finally recognizes that the person they are speaking to is not Batman, despite the fact that they are obviously the same person, when he grabs a gun from a subordinate and wields it himself.
- Outside the Box Tactic: In the episode "Hawk and Dove", the Annihilator defeats entire armed factions by feeding off aggression and hostility. When Dove faces the machine and neither attacks it nor fights back in self defense, the machine shuts down.
- Papa Wolf - Never threaten Aquaman's kid.
- Parental Bonus - Many, frequently from Flash and Hawkgirl.
Flash: Fastest man alive.
- Parental Substitute:
- Wildcat helped train and mentor Black Canary when she was just getting started.
- Oberon to Mister Miracle.
- Galatea calls Dr. Hamilton "Daddy". Hamilton is visibly unnerved by the situation, since he is potentially sending her to her death.
- Phantom Zone - Actually used in "The Doomsday Sanction".
- Physical God - Ares, Hades and Darkseid and the New Gods.
- Piggybacking on Hitler - In "The Savage Time", Vandal Savage in the present builds a time machine and sends a laptop back to himself during World War II, containing future history and schematics for technology. Past-Vandal then joins the Nazis and rapidly rises through the ranks until he usurps Hitler himself, becoming the new Führer. Vandal Savage does not really care about Nazi ideals; he just wanted to use them to conquer the world for himself.
- Playing with Fire: Fire and Volcana.
- Poirot Speak: The Germans in "The Savage Time" speak English, even amongst themselves, but occasionally slip in a "Jawohl" and "Mein Fuhrer."
- Politically Incorrect Hero - Aquaman
- Politically-Incorrect Villain - Mongul
- Post Dramatic Stress Disorder - Professor Hamilton in "Question Authority".
- Post Script Season - The third season of JLU. Notice the frequency of more out-there episodes and characters.
- Power Creep, Power Seep - In his own series, a tough enough Mook could give Batman trouble (or at least slow him down). Here, he can land kicks on Darkseid - okay, it does not really do anything, but still. In-Universe, gradual power creep is shown in "Only a Dream" to be Superman's greatest nightmare. He keeps getting bigger and stronger and is unable to control his powers. Used as a great Mythology Gag, no less: "I started with no power at all, and I kept getting more. What if it never stops?"
- Power Loss Makes You Strong - Green Lantern in "The Savage Time", Superman in "Hereafter", Supergirl in "Chaos at the Earth's Core".
- Power Nullifier - Used by Luthor on the Justice Lords.
- Power Perversion Potential - Implied.
- Power Trio - DC's "Big Three": Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Spotlighted in "For the Man Who Has Everything".
- Power Walk - Intro for Seasons One and Two featured this in sloooow mooooootiiiiioooonnn.
- Powered Armor - Worn by Luthor and Steel. S.T.R.I.P.E starts of as more of a Mini-Mecha before gradually becoming more like this in the final season.
- President Evil - Justice Lord Lex Luthor.
- Professor Guinea Pig - Cheetah.
- Prophecy Twist - "Far From Home".
- Proud Warrior Race Girl - Hawkgirl. Also Draaga in "War World".
- Psychic Static - Batman humming "Frere Jacques" at Doctor Destiny.
- Psychopathic Manchild - Toyman.
- Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat: When Zatanna is closing out her performance, she proclaims that she will pull a rabbit out of her hat. She grabs someone from the audience instead.
- Punch-Punch-Punch Uh-Oh:
- Happens to Superman during the prison break in "Starcrossed"; his cell was specifically designed to sap his powers, and he had not fully recovered yet.
- Happens rather humorously to Downpour against Aquaman in "Ultimatum". Downpour tried to crush Aquaman by turning into a tidal wave, which did NOTHING, followed by Aquaman backfisting him.
Aquaman: "King of the Sea, remember?"
- Punched Across the Room: A staple of the series as superpowered beings, and even some non-superpowered beings, toss people hither and yon.
- Puppeteer Parasite - Eclipso
- Put on a Bus:
- Hawkgirl was originally put on a bus, but she came back.
- J'onn J'onzz left on a bus and returned just in time for a Crowning Moment of Awesome in the Grand Finale.
- When Amazo was put on the bus he was never seen again. Apparently, they meant to turn this into a Brick Joke in the last episode, but, ironically enough, they forgot.
- Putting on the Reich: "Hearts and Minds"
- Race Against the Clock: "Wild Cards," which takes place in Real Time as the League attempts to defuse several bombs that the Joker has placed throughout Las Vegas.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs - By Flash.
- The Real Heroes - In the episode "Patriot Act".
- Real Time: The majority of "Wild Cards" takes place in real time, with a Ticking Clock on screen keeping track.
- Reality Warper
- Really Gets Around: Tala. Luthor, Grodd, alludes to past history with Felix Faust, (all apparently more power plays than anything else) and even manages to sneak in a quickie with The Flash.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old - J'onn, Vandal Savage, Morgaine le Fey and her son, Mordred. Mordred ultimately loses his eternal youth in the episode "Kid Stuff" and ends up rapidly degrading to his true age.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- The Mirror Universe Luthor gives one to that dimension's Superman at the beginning of a "A Better World", pointing out that he could have stopped Luthor years ago if only he had killed him. This version of Superman takes him up on the suggestion.
- Captain Marvel gives one to the Original Seven (Particularly Superman) over their recent actions.
- Redheaded Hero - Flash, Hawkgirl and The Question, without his mask.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni - Hawk and Dove, who are colored according to the philosophies they personify, but coincidentally embody many of the personality traits of this trope as well.
- Redemption Equals Death - Solomon Grundy.
- Refuge in Audacity: "Ring the Bell" (A term coined by Mel Brooks during the production of The Producers) was an official policy starting with season two of Justice League, and revolved around making a scene potentially too big, going too far, and then going further.
- Reincarnation Romance - Between John Stewart and Hawkgirl...Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
- Relationship Upgrade: In "Wild Cards" in season two John and Shayera go from teammates who bicker and argue a lot to an Official Couple.
- Religion Is Magic: When Felix Faust begins wreaking havoc in Tartarus, only the magic-based heroes are affected.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent - Villains Copperhead and Eclipso.
- Rescue Romance: The precise details are not revealed, but Big Barda reveals that she was a slave on Apokolips before Scott Free, her future husband, freed her from her brainwashing.
- Ret Canon:
- Not long after the series premiered, in comics canon John Stewart returned to being an active Green Lantern with his haircut and costume from the series and joined the JLA. While the comics have yet to shave him bald and give him a beard ala the JLU seasons, his Mirror Universe counterpart, Power Ring, sports a similar look and John joked about it with Black Lightning (who is currently bald) when he replaced Hal Jordan in the post-Infinite Crisis version of the League.
- Vixen's current 'superpowered Josephine Baker' look came to the comics from here.
- Retro Universe - The well-loved episode "Legends".
- The Reveal: Hawkgirl has been spying on Earth and the League all along for the Thanagarians, who are planning to destroy the Earth as part of their war with the Gordanians.
- Revenge Against Men - The plot of "Fury".
- Right Behind Me - Batman about Wonder Woman in "The Once and Future Thing".
- Robot Buddy - Skeets to Booster Gold, also Brainiac in Superman's Krypton fantasy.
- Rocket Punch - STRIPE has one.
- Rogues Gallery - Flash's Rogues Gallery, in particular, makes a memorable appearance.
- Round Table Shot - For both the League and Cadmus in "The Doomsday Sanction".
- Rubber Forehead Aliens
- Rubber Man - Elongated Man and Plastic Man.
- Running Gag - In "The Greatest Story Never Told", several characters mistook Booster Gold for the Green Lantern, even lampshaded at the end of the episode.
- Ruritania - Kasnia.
- Sadly Mythtaken:
- The Greek pantheon received a general re-writing to fit the good/evil dichotomy of the story (See Hijacked by Jesus). When Circe appears in "This Little Piggy" she is repeatedly referred to as a "Goddess." In The Odyssey, the actual Circe, though powerful, was merely a human witch with a penchance for turning people into animals.
- The series takes many liberties with Arthurian legend, introducing Morgan Le Fay as an antagonist of the League and tying Etrigan's origin into the fall of Camelot. Most of the changes, however, were first made in the comics before being adapted into the show.
- Salt and Pepper - Reversed. Green Lantern is the straight man, while Flash is the goofball.
- Sand in My Eyes - Nicely subverted after Superman comes back from the dead.
Superman: I'm fine. Very glad to be home. ...Flash?
- Save This Person Save the World - It gets to a point in Unlimited where you are just waiting for Luthor to off the Flash and instigate Doomsday. Though granted, the Question was the only one who really believed it would happen amongst the characters, and it was mostly the audience who got the Foreshadowing.
- Scenery Censor - Happens to Lex Luthor in "Divided We Fall".
- Screaming Warrior:
Maria Canals (Hawkgirl's Actress) "I have this war cry that I love when I get to do. It relieves a lot of stress when I do it."
- Supergirl, believe it or not. When she loses most of her abilities in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" Green Lantern tells her to stay back out of the fight, but she picks up a sword and literally leaps into battle, screaming at the top of her lungs before Lantern can even finish the sentence.
- Screw Destiny: When John tells Shayera about their future son, Rex Stewart (aka Warhawk) he also tells her that although he still loves her, he "won't be destiny's puppet" and will be staying with Vixen. However...
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In "Wild Cards," when Superman points out that he will be killed along with the heroes if he stays until the bomb goes off, King turns and flees the fight.
- Sdrawkcab Name - Greek deity Ares passes himself off as 'Mister Sera'.
- Sealed Evil in a Can - "Secret Origins", "Paradise Lost", "Secret Society".
- Seen It All - Jonah Hex, in a Mythology Gag to his comic self, easily recognizes the JL as time travelers. "I've had an interestin' life." The Kents had a notable moment when J'onn came to visit for Christmas.
J'onn: Hello... My name is J'onn. I am a Martian.
- Secret Identity:
- Superman was the first character to reveal his identity to another member of the League during the show. In "Comfort and Joy" he brings J'onn J'onzz home with him for Christmas, introducing him to his parents and including him in his life as 'Clark.'
- In "Starcrossed," when the League is on the run they realize that they can easily blend in with the populace.
J'onn: [The Thanagarians] are looking for the Justice League. Without our costumes, we are merely ordinary citizens.
- Parodied. After accidentally getting a hold of Flash's body, Lex Luthor realizes he can use this moment to discover the Flash's real ID and promptly removes his mask, revealing... well, that he has no clue who this red-headed kid is.
- Secret Test of Character:
- J'onn J'onzz had criminal Steven Mandragora moved from his hideout and placed in protective custody, but withheld that information from the Huntress to see if she would attempt to kill him for the murder of her parents.
- Shining Knight retells a story of one time when his lord, King Arthur, ordered him to lay waste to a village. Shining Knight believed that Arthur could never be so heartless and refused the order, willing to turn in his sword in shame if it turned out that he was wrong, but Arthur in turn thanked him for his actions.
- Self-Serving Memory - In the series finale "Destroyer", Darkseid pulls this, erroneously recalling that last time they met ("Twilight"), Superman could barely hold his own against him. The truth was that in Twilight, Superman very nearly beat Darkseid to death and would have had not Batman dragged him away through a boom tube. In "For the Man who Has Everything," Mongol tries to accuse Superman of that:
Mongul: I suppose Superman told you about our previous encounter.
- Sensor Character: J'onn J'onzz often fulfills this role, thanks to his telepathic abilities.
- Semper Fi: Since John Stewart, the Green Lantern, was a former Marine, the skills and experiences help him when he got transported into WWII and fit right in with Sgt. Rock's Easy Company.
- Sex Face Turn: Batman seduces Cheetah when he is being held prisoner by the Injustice Guild, and she is subsequently torn when Luthor plans to destroy the Watchtower. Ultimately, the Justice League receive a warning about the bomb and are able to survive, and Solomon Grundy drags Cheetah off-screen to punish her for her betrayal. It was not her, but the Ultra-Humanite who warned the League.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: When Shayera and John finally admit their feelings to each other they kiss passionately, and the scene cuts to an old woman hitting "Jackpot!" on a slot machine.
- Shadow Archetype - Shadow Thief to Hawkman.
- Shadow Discretion Shot - Mandragora killing The Huntress' parents in a Flash Back.
- Shangri La - Nanda Parbat.
- Shaped Like Itself: Galatea's kryptonite is boredom. Actually, her kryptonite is kryptonite, but that is hardly relevant to the conversation.
- Shapeshifter Default Form - Acknowledged and played with by J'onn. His "superhero" form is merely a slightly more humanoid version of his true martian form; it allows him to have some bit of identity without having to look too human. However, this also led to a minor production error, which the producers admitted on the DVD commentary: In "A Better World" the Justice Lord J'onn J'onzz is shot by a power-disrupting beam and instantly loses the dragon-shape he had changed into. However, instead of reverting back to his actual Martian form, he returns to his Justice Lord costume and shape that he adopted to fit in with the rest of his team. The commentary reveals this just slipped by and was not noticed until the episode had already been completed.
- Shapeshifter Guilt Trip - The drones in "Divided We Fall."
- Shapeshifter Showdown - In "Secret Society", between the Martian Manhunter and Clayface. The Martian wins...by turning into Clayface.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Hawkgirl, or as Green Lantern put it;
- She Fu - In their conflict in "Double Date", Huntress uses handstands, spins, and high kicks, while Black Canary fights like a real-world well-trained martial artist and wins hands-down.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend - Batman, about Wonder Woman.
- Ship Tease - Between Batman and Wonder Woman in "The Brave and the Bold" and other episodes.
- Shipper on Deck - The Joker wonders aloud whether there's something going on between Hawkgirl and Green Lantern...Then declares "Not on my show!"
- Shoot the Dog:
- Shoot the Fuel Tank: Vigilante shoots the gas tank of his own motorcycle after he drove it right at the General. It does explode, but it has no effect.
- Shooting Gallery
- In the World War II episode, Superman flies directly through a German plane and emerges from the inevitable explosion covered head to toe in flames - which makes him a dead ringer for the Marvel Universe's original, Nazi-fighting Human Torch. An unidentified Allied solider later in the episode is shown injured and clutching his eye in reference to Nick Fury.
- In the same episode, the Flash heckles the Nazis by yelling "Over here, Colonel Klink!"
- The Joker once remarked that "they would have gotten away with it, too, were it not for me meddling with the kids!"
- The Joker once also remarked to Batman in "Injustice For All" after Batman beat him up one more time "YOU'RE despicable!" (Would this be a CMOF as well?)
- In the episode "Legends", part one, the giant robot at the beginning looks like it was commissioned by Gendo.
- The exterior of Luthor's mansion, as seen in "The Return" looks quite familiar...
- The JLU finale has Captain Steel channeling Captain America (comics) by flinging a Parademon's shield.
- The Thanagarians' ultimate goal in "Starcrossed" was to blow up the Earth to make a hyperspace bypass
- In "Eclipsed" Godfrey reads an anti-superhero diatribe from a book titled "Innocents Seduced." This is a riff on "The Seduction of the Innocent," an infamous book about the negative effects of superhero comics on children.
- In "Wild Cards", the Joker buys airtime under the name of 'Gwynplaine Entertainment'.
- The ending of "Panic in the Sky". An orbital laser weapon fails to do its job, then a few hours later a cocky git painfully transforms into a superpowered tentacle-monster. Why does this sound familiar?
- When Zatanna is trying to grab a rabbit in her hat, she calls out for "Bugs Bunny."
- The final two episodes of JLU, "Alive" and "Destroyer" are deliberate references to KISS albums. Darkseid's outfit is also a direct reference to Gene Simmon's on the cover of Destroyer.
- When Skeets gets spit out of a black hole, he proclaims "My God, it's full of stars..."
- In "Epilogue," the second Royal Flush Gang features a Jack that is also a samurai. His normal human form looks suspiciously like Phil LaMarr.
- In "The Return" Luthor mentions Heisenberg Compensators.
- When the Flash runs so fast he nearly enters the Speed Force in "Divided We Fall", the rapid montage of the world as he runs around it is reminiscent of Mike Jittlov's The Wizard of Speed and Time, another story about a speedster.
- The giant, flying, turtle that attacks Japan in "Chaos at the Earth's Core" is both a Mythology Gag and a shout out to Gamera
- Shown Their Work: In "The Balance", Diana has a lovely painting of a woman on a bull on the wall of her Watchtower quarters. Those with a background in Greek history will recognize it as a fragment of a bull-jumping mural from the ancient ruins on Minos. (May also be a Mythology Gag.)
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Steve Trevor plants one on Wonder Woman, and she returns the favor later in the episode.
- Shut UP, Hannibal - Flash to a robotic duplicate attempting a Hannibal Lecture on him. Which is even funnier when you realise the duplicate is dressed up as Zoom, whose comic alter ego had much the same job as Jodie Foster's character in The Silence of the Lambs.
- Sinister Silhouettes - Aforementioned V-Formation Team Shot in the first series opening had them silhouetted.
- Sizeshifter - The Atom, who shrinks, and Atom-Smasher, who grows.
- Sleep Cute:
- Smart People Know Latin: Batman and Green Arrow exchange Latin proverbs to demonstrate their intelligent rivalry.
- Smart People Play Chess: Amazo and Aquaman. It is also used to play Hawkgirl up as a fierce warrior, even outside the field of hitting things with a mace; she is mentioned as having a winning chess record against Batman.
- Smug Super:
- Gorilla Grodd is the most arrogant character of the series, who frequently exposits at length about his own intelligence and the inferiority of everybody around him.
- Flash in his early appearances; he frequently bragged about his speed and how that would allow him to easily triumph in any situation. As the series progressed he mellowed considerably after facing numerous opponents who could not be overcome with speed alone.
- Snakes Are Evil - Yes, they really are.
- Snowball Fight: When one of the participants has a Green Lantern Ring it can be a bit one-sided.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Wonder Woman and Batman's invasion of Kasnia, complete with engaging enemy jets, infantry and tanks, is accompanied by the reverent wedding ceremony of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Wonder Woman objects to the wedding of Princess Audrey and Vandal Savage. Strenuously. With a tank.
- The Spock - Martian Manhunter.
- The Spook: The Imperium Horde are this.
J'onn: Where they came from, no-one knew.
- Spotting the Thread - Batman notices that Clayface is in disguise when he overdoes his acting...yo.
- Stage Magician: Zatanna is a primary guest star in "This Little Piggy," where she is introduced performing her act on stage.
- Stage Mom: Morgaine le Fay.
- Stalker with a Crush - Hawkman
- Standard Female Grab Area - Played straight.
- Stationary Wings - Hawkgirl and the rest of the Thanagarians. The ancient Thanagarians used to wear artificial wings and hover via an anti-gravity device, but they have since bio-engineered organic wings into their species.
- Statuesque Stunner:
- Big Barda, the page image, appears in season two of Unlimited.
- Fire, the object of Flash's not-so-subtle affections, is the tallest one on the team when she, he, and Hawkgirl go to Blackhawk Island.
- Stop Worshipping Me! - The previous incarnations of Hawkgirl and Hawkman were Thanagarian police officers stranded on Earth before human civilization arose. They founded the first human state (in Ancient Egypt) and, despite their sincerest efforts to avoid it, were worshiped as gods in return.
- Story Arc - Unlimited had two.
- Straw Feminist - Aresia, an orphan raised by the Amazons, took their distrust of men to the ultimate extreme by releasing a deadly allergen to kill all males on the planet. Even after learning that it was a man who saved her life and helped her reach the safety of Themyscira, she still claimed that the good deed of one could not atone for the sins of the others.
- String Theory - The Question has one.
- Stupid Evil: The demons in Tartarus mistake Hawkgirl for an angel and flee in terror when she mentions invoking the wrath of "the boss."
Hawkgirl: "If we're lucky they'll all be that dumb."
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler
- Vandal Savage's time travel activities end up equipping Nazi legions with War Wheels, machines the size of buildings that overwhelm any Allied tanks or infantry they come up against.
- In Unlimited it is revealed that the Nazis were experimenting with a Super Serum, creating the "Captain Nazi" program to turn regular soldiers into unstoppable monsters. Fortunately, Spy Smasher was able to destroy the laboratory and take the only existing sample of the formula back to the USA.
- Stupid Sacrifice: Steve Trevor plans to sacrifice himself to delay a group of German soldiers so Wonder Woman can escape, and when she tries to explain to him that there is no need for such an action he interrupts her before she can finish. Thankfully, she stops him anyway and defeats the soldiers herself.
- Super Rug Pull - Darkseid tries this on Superman.
- Super Serum - The Captain Nazi serum which turned Eiling into a hulking monster.
- Super Soldier: The whole point of Cadmus and its offspring, and the serum referenced above.
- Superhero Paradox: For once subverted. Despite the high variety of villains within the universe, by the time of Justice League Unlimited, the resident Knight of Cerebus mentions that the heroes work so well, that villains can't operate individually anymore. By the end of the series, there's only 12 major villains still operating consistently on earth, and even then, their days are numbered since a 5 minute start isn't enough to save themselves.
- Super-Hero Speciation: Lampshaded when John Stewart sends Elongated Man on crowd control during an epic battle. Stewart explicitly states that they already had Plastic Man there as a fighter and "We don't need two stretchy guys."
- Super Human Trafficking - by Roulette.
- Superpower Lottery - The Martian Manhunter, Superman, Amazo.
- Survivor Guilt - Vandal Savage in "Hereafter". All 30,000 years of it.
- Swiss Army Weapon - Hawkgirl's Energy Mace.
- Sword of Damocles:
- Vandal Savage uses his marriage into the Kasnian Royal Family to install a railgun into the International Space Station and, as he now has "the ultimate high ground," declares himself ruler of the world.
- CADMUS fears that the League itself will become a hanging Sword, particularly with their Binary Fusion Generator pointing down at the world; the original story is namechecked as LexCorp Damocles-class missiles are used to attack the League when Amanda Waller feels they have crossed the line. Waller and compatriots were partially inspired by the actions of the Justice Lords, who did take control.
- Symbolic Blood - The end of the flashback in "Ancient History" shows past-incarnation Jon and Shayera dead with a pool of red... poisoned wine.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Hawkgirl for Solomon Grundy.
- Take My Hand:
- In "The Enemy Below," Aquaman's brother extends his hand to Aquaman and asks to be pulled up from the ledge. Aquaman grabs his trident back from his brother and lets him fall to his death.
- At the end of "Divided We Fall," after Flash has vanished into the Speed Force Shayera asks him to take her hand as she tries to pull him back. Ultimately, she and the rest of the League grab his arm and pull him out of the Speed Force, but a close-up reveals that Flash never did grab Shayera's hand..
- Take That - When the League first forms, Flash scoffs at being "a bunch of Superfriends." In the same episode, one plot point consists of a massive dig at Reeve's Anvilicious Superman IV the Quest For Peace-- the Alien Invasion manipulated Superman into accelerating nuclear disarmament.
- Talk to the Fist - In Unlimited Ep. 6, Circe is performing at the Amphitheatre. Zatanna starts magically chucking furniture at her during her "acceptance" speech.
- The piano gag also doubles as a Shout-Out, since Circe's red-shoe-clad feet curl up beneath the piano, and then she appears in a billowing green smoke.
- The Team Normal - Batman
- Technical Pacifist - Many examples such as Batman, but there is also Dove of "Hawk and Dove", who is perhaps the only seriously pacifist superhero. No, really, the worst he ever does is judo flip someone... and he apologizes for it.
- Technicolor Fire - Fire's green er, fire.
- Telepathy - For Martian Manhunter, it causes more drama than any other power. And he has a bunch, so...
- Teleportation Sickness - Using Boom Tubes always makes Batman sick.
- Teleporters and Transporters - In Unlimited.
- Tell Me About My Father - Inverted as Shayera asks Batman about her son.
- Ten-Minute Retirement - Hawkgirl and later Martian Manhunter.
- Theme Naming: Trickster notes how most of the Flash's Rogue's are Captains, and complains that they would probably treat him with more respect if he were a captain. Of course, Mirror Master is also outside the pattern and gets plenty of respect, so maybe there are other reasons.
- Theme Tune - Both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited have their own. When the League travels to the wild west, a country-tinged version of their original theme plays as they ride into action.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Green Arrow sings a bit from the leitmotif that serves as his personal theme tune when he rides down a zipline and kicks a mook in the face.
- Thememobile - The Batmobile, obviously. Parodied with the Flashmobile, a souped-up shaggin' wagon The Flash bought with the money he made shilling for an energy bar company.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: Though John Dee had occasional fantasies of power and vengeance on the Justice League, when "Only a Dream" began he was a well-behaved prison inmate who even the guards liked and believed should be released. However, his parole is turned down again, his wife leaves him and then the prison erupts in a full scale riot. From all indications he really was a rehabilitated convict, but when the system would not even give him a chance he decided to go whole-hog and cut loose.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted, both Martian Manhunter and Dr. Fate serve as official therapists to the League and its members. Wildcat, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, and Amazo are all shown under their care at one time or another.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill - In part two of "Once and Future Thing," Lord Chronos sends his turncoat henchman Chucko to the age of the dinosaurs... just before the world-shattering meteor impact... at ground zero. Resulting in an understated "Oh, phooey. from said clown.
Chronos: "Do you know what killed the dinosaurs? Well, Chucko does."
- There Was a Door: Frequently. In "Injustice For All" Hawkgirl smashes through the door and is followed by the Flash, then Superman smashes a hole through the wall next to the already-made hole where the door was, and then Green Lantern and Wonder Woman smash another hole through a window, next to the already-existing hole in the wall which is itself next to the already-existing hole where the door once was.
- They Do: The Hawkgirl/Green Lantern relationship was hinted at throughout the first two seasons with their constant bickering and fighting, and after John nearly dies in "Wild Cards" in season two the two finally confess their feelings to one another and kiss.
- Third Person Person - Flash does this when he tries to prove that he is Most Definitely Lex Luthor.
- This Is Not a Drill - Played Straight.
- This Is the Part Where - Lex Luthor in "Divided We Fall".
- This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman - Mostly averted, except for "The Terror Beyond" where Wonder Woman and Aquaman fight in the water during a Poor Communication Kills moment, allowing Aquaman to win.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill:
- Wildcat gives up underground metahuman boxing events when he realizes that if he keeps this up he will in all likelihood kill someone, and is really off-put by the prospect.
- After Lex Luthor laughs at Flash's apparent death, Superman explains how he is different from the Justice Lords dimension version of himself:
Superman: I'm not the man who killed President Luthor. Right now I wish to Heaven that I was, but I'm not.
- Throwaway Country: San Baquero, a volcanic island nation in the Caribbean Sea that is, according to General Wade Eiling, the source of much drug smuggling into the USA. It is destroyed in "The Doomsday Sanction" when the volcano erupts, assisted by a near-explosion from a nuclear warhead.
- Thrown Out the Airlock
- The Flash in "Maid Of Honor".
- Gorilla Grodd in "Alive".
- The Thunderdome: "War World"
- Time Stands Still - The Flash's nightmare in "Only a Dream".
- Time Travel Romance - For Supergirl.
- Timeline-Altering MacGuffin: Vandal Savage's laptop in "The Savage Time".
- Timm Style - Naturally, since character designs were done by Bruce Timm
- Tinman Typist - Brainiac in the episode "Twilight." Said keyboard is even built into his own arm!
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Big Barda and Mr. Miracle, one of the original pairs, appear in the second season of Unlimited.
- Title Drop: In "Wild Cards," the Joker refers to the Royal Flush Gang, who are dressed as playing cards, as 'wild cards.'
- To Absent Friends - in "Hereafter"
- Token Minority - John Stewart was chosen to be the Green Lantern for this series instead of the more popular Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. The creators have confirmed that part of this decision was to prevent the team from being solely composed of white people and aliens.
- Tome of Eldritch Lore - The classic example is given a Shout-Out in "The Balance":
Felix Faust: listing the contents of Hades' library to Wonder Woman "...dark tomes that make the Necronomicon look like a children's book...
- Took a Level in Badass - Lex Luthor gains Super Strength, surprising even himself, and proceeds to give The Question a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- Torture Technician
- When Vandal Savage captures J'onn J'onzz in "The Savage Time," he has Josef get him to talk.
- Dr. Moon in "Question Authority", who is assigned the task of getting information from the Question.
- Translation Convention: All the Germans in "The Savage Time" speak English with the exception of the occasional "Jawohl" and "Mein Fuhrer", even when speaking to one another.
- Trick and Follow Ploy - Batman tricks Harley into returning to the Joker's secret headquarters in the middle of the Royal Flush Gang's assault on Las Vegas.
- Trick Arrow - Used by Green Arrow and his ex-partner, Speedy.
- Tripod Terror - Used in the pilot. In-joke provided by "General Wells"
- Trust-Building Blunder - In "Secret Society".
- Truth in Television - In "A Knight of Shadows", the Hugh Hefner Expy refers to a statue he describes as "Greek." Wonder Woman corrects him, insisting that it is in fact a Roman copy. In real life, many of our surviving ancient "Greek" statues are in fact very good marble Roman copies of the bronze Greek originals.
- Try Not to Die - Huntress, Black Canary, Vixen, and Hawkgirl against one enemy? Easy, right? Make that foe Wonder Woman and really, all they can do is try to stay alive.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The Manhunters.
- Twin Telepathy: In Supergirl's dreams, she relives the memories of her evil clone Galatea.
- Underwear of Power -Too many examples to list, just look at the page image.
- Unfinished Business - Deadman.
- Unknown Rival - John Dee was just one of Lex Luthor's Faceless Goons, who was busted by the Justice League for guarding a shipment of stolen weapons and has been stewing in prison and dreaming of his revenge ever since. When he gains superpowers and escapes, the Leaguers are all baffled as to why he wants to destroy them, since they do not remember arresting him at all.
- Unmoving Pattern - Why neither Zatanna nor Black Canary wore fishnets. Damn it.
- Unobtainium - Nth Metal.
- Un Paused - In the episode featuring Deadman, Superman gets possessed midsentence while talking about a restaurant in Smallville where "the milkshakes are so thick..." When he regains control of his body, Supe's first words are "...you have to eat them with a spoon!"
- Unreliable Expositor: The origins of Cadmus and Doomsday as explained by Amanda Waller and Professor Milo do not exactly match the shown events or each other's stories.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension - Green Lantern and Hawkgirl (and later, Batman and Wonder Woman) put the "UST" in "Justice". And Black Canary and Green Arrow at first, but they eventually resolve theirs.
- V-Formation Team Shot - The former Trope Namer.
- Vain Sorceress - Circe, Morgaine Le Fay.
- Vapor Trail - In "Fury", fallen power lines ignite a trail of spilled fuel leading to a downed helicopter.
- Vertigo Effect: On The Question when he attempts to assassinate Lex Luthor to prevent the Bad Future.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment - In "Hearts and Minds" when Katma Tui takes her Green Lantern Ring and places it somewhere around the crotch of her Stripperific Go-Go Enslavement outfit, and do not forget about when Wonder Woman shoves a shrunk down Atom between her breasts to free up her hands.
- Villain Episode - "Alive", "Taskforce X"
- Villain Song - Circe singing "Lulu's back in town" in "This Little Piggy".
- Villain Team-Up - A number of times.
- Villainous Glutton - Steven Mandragora. One would assume he is fat (just look at this picture), but it turns out that that is all muscle, to the point where Black Canary punched him as hard as she could and hurt her hand.
- Violence Is the Only Option - Particularly in "The Terror Beyond". Inverted in "Hawk and Dove" where pacifism is the only option.
- Vitriolic Best Buds - Flash and Hawkgirl.
- Voice of the Legion - The Brainiac/Luthor fusion.
- Voices Are Mental - Averted. During "The Great Brian Robbery" Michael Rosenbaum continued to voice Flash's body and Clancy Brown continued to voice Luthor's body despite the characters' mind getting switched. DVD commentary says the producers were quite excited at this prospect, primarily as a Shout-Out to Michael Rosenbaum's role as Luthor in Smallville, but the episode eventually had very little dialogue for Luthor-In-Flash's-Body, with most of the attention on Flash-In-Luthor's-Body.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting:
- Was It All a Lie?: Green Lantern asks this of Hawkgirl at the end of "Starcrossed."
- Wave Motion Gun - Watchtower II's Binary Fusion Generator cannon, which proved to be way more trouble than it was worth. It was almost, but not quite, a Wave Motion Tuning Fork - although the blast itself came from a barrel, the barrel emerged from the base of the station splitting open...and then the barrel itself split open on either side of the muzzle.
- We Are as Mayflies - Martian Manhunter is already over a thousand years old, and he came to realize that he will likely outlive any of his current human friends so he had better learn to like humanity.
- Welcome Episode - "Initiation".
- Well-Intentioned Extremist - Amanda Waller.
- The Justice Lords too. Batman sums it up well:
Justice Lord Batman: I didn't forget! I just chose peace and security instead.
- Wham! Line: " Rich boy." It demonstrates not just that Amanda Wallers knows Batman's secret identity, but is the first indication that Cadmus knows more about the League than the League does about them, that the organization is of a much larger scale than previously suspected and that it might be able to do actual damage to the League.
- What Does This Button Do? - Flash in "Starcrossed".
- "What Do They Fear?" Episode - "Only a Dream".
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Longshadow and the original Ultimen are neither seen nor mentioned after "Ultimatum," despite Longshadow joining the League and the entire team being expected to die painfully in the near future.
- The King of Kaznia was poisoned and paralyzed by Vandal Savage in the first part of "Maid of Honor" as part of Savage's plot to gain control of the world, but was not mentioned at all in the second episode.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human? and What Measure Is a Mook? - Rather uncomfortably applied.
- What the Heck Is An Aglet? - According to The Question, the answer is something truly sinister.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Captain Marvel chews out the Original Seven before resigning from the Justice League for their paranoia and arrogance.
- Played for laughs in the finale, where the villains, having just helped saved Earth, protest the League being so quick to arrest them after everything's back to normal. Batman decides to cut them a break and give them a Mercy Lead.
- When All You Have Is a Hammer - Hawkgirl's initial stratagem for dealing with any given problem is to hit it really hard with her mace. If that fails, Plan B is to hit it with the mace...but harder.
- Who Shot JFK? - "There was a magic bullet...it was forged by Illuminati mystics to prevent us from learning the truth!"
- Who Wants to Live Forever? - Vandal Savage gained immortality by sleeping next to a magical meteor -- in Ice Age Europe. He is still ticking.
- Who Watches the Watchmen?: - Cadmus. They do a really good job of it.
- Who Writes This Crap? - "Dead Reckoning" has some legitimately funny, touching, and Tear Jerker moments but...seriously? Grodd's master plan is to turn the entire world into apes? Even Lex Luthor thinks it is idiotic.
- Whole-Plot Reference: "Secret Origins," the three-part pilot episode, is based on The War of the Worlds. Both are about an alien invaders from Mars who want to sap the world's resources, both feature tripod crafts that level major cities, and when things seem the aliens have won, they are shown to be easily defeated due to a Weaksauce Weakness set up as a Chekhov's Gun in the first act. There is even a General Wells.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? - In "Injustice For All," Batman is captured and restrained. Joker tells Luthor that they should kill him right away, but Luthor refuses. To which The Joker responds, "And they say I'm crazy". Used again in "Secret Society", after most of the JL has been captured and Clayface argues with Grodd that they should just kill the heroes immediately. Lampshaded by Clayface who, as a former actor, is very familiar with this trope, but then subverted when we learn that "Clayface" is actually J'onn J'onnz in disguise, and he was deliberately stalling their execution.
- Wicked Cultured: The Ultra-Humanite appreciates classical opera and the works of Tchaikovsky. He betrays Lex Luthor for a higher payday, then gives the money away in a donation to public broadcasting. He exposits on the importance of literacy amongst children and agrees to a Christmas truce with the Flash in order to give a present to orphans, which he has modified to play a recording he made of The Nutcracker. Throughout the series, everything he does is motivated by an appreciation of fine art and culture.
- Will Not Be a Victim - The Flash at the end of the fourth season.
- Will They or Won't They? - John Stewart and Hawkgirl spent the first two seasons arguing and bickering so much that Flash compared them to an old married couple. In "Wild Cards", near the end of season two, They Do. Batman and Wonder Woman had a much more subdued relationship, with a few subtle hints of attraction, but never any real progress (Except that one time she was a pig).
- Winged Humanoid - Thanagarians. Flashbacks in the final season portrayed ancient Thanagarians with golden, metallic-looking wings instead of the apparently-natural wings of the current-day. Word of God explained that Thanagarians were originally Human Aliens with mechanical wings (like their counterparts from the original comics) and at some point in the interim they used bioengineering to give themselves organic wings.
- Wire Dilemma - In "Wild Cards".
- With My Hands Tied - Wonder Woman's escape in "Starcrossed".
- The Worf Effect - Used often. Commentary released on the DVD's reveals that the producers played the trope perfectly straight, they would have villains injure Superman to display how powerful they were, but that they did not realise at the time how often they were doing it, or the detriment to the show. When they started the second season of Justice League they made a policy decision to stop this particular tactic; it was only resurrected in "The Return" where, instead of defeating Superman, the Android defeated the entire League in order to show how powerful it was.
- Worf Had the Flu - Martian Manhunter's mysterious illness in the War World episode.
- Working with the Ex: John Stewart and Hawkgirl are ex-lovers.
- World of Badass: Well of course, especially in Unlimited.
- World of Cardboard Speech - The Trope Namer.
- World of Ham - The world of the Justice Guild in "Legends" qualifies as this, although it is mostly a recreation of a world destroyed by a nuclear war with its survivors trapped in it.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Superman might not (At least, not when the girl points it out), but Wonder Woman has no problems with it.
- Wrestler in All of Us: In "For the Man Who Has Everything" Wonder Woman gives Mongul a full on German suplex. Solomon Grundy gives Superman a standard vertical suplex in "The Terror Beyond". In "The Cat and the Canary" Atomic Skull gives Wildcat a cage assisted back suplex. Upon recovering, Wildcat, a trained boxer and martial artist, responds with a clothesline. A few other pro-wrestling moves show up throughout the series as well.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Batman Beyond originally took place in the year 2039, being referred to as taking place 40 years after the end of Batman the Animated Series (1999). Later on, the creators of the show announced that the show takes place 50 years after the end of Justice League Unlimited (2006), meaning that would place the date at 2056 instead. However, the characters make explicit references to events that happened in the previous series as being no more than 40 years. Certain sources even give Terry McGinnis a birthdate of 2023. And now, the 2010 Batman Beyond comic series once again confirms the date as being 2039 and thus only 40 years passing.
- Wrong Wire - "Wild Cards".
- Xanatos Gambit - In the episode "Wild Cards:" If The Justice League succeeds they have created a media storm that Joker can high-jack to make Ace drive a few million people incurably insane. Joker wins. If the Justice League fails they get blown up alongside large amounts of Las Vegas and the ensuing media storm will provide Joker even more victims for Ace. Joker wins.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race - The Streak to Green Lantern in "Legends".
- You're Insane! - Occurs as an Insult Backfire in "Herafter":
Vandal Savage: The Earth belongs to the cockroaches now... Oh, and me.
- Another one, in "Injustice For All"
Solomon Grundy: [To Luthor]You're crazy!
- You Are Not Alone - When the entire core team drags Flash out of the speedforce.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Word of God has stated that John and Shayera will eventually end up together in spite of the former's Screw Destiny statement. Batman Beyond being canonical to the DCAU also makes it certain this will be the case.
- You Do NOT Want to Know - In "The Enemy Below". Batman's line? The one you do not want to know? The one Superman did not want to know? By Word of God, it is: "I know where you live, Floyd."
- You Got Spunk:
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness - Hades does a variation of this to Felix Faust after being released.
- You Watch Too Much X - Green Lantern to Flash in "The Brave and the Bold".
- You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You
- Your Mind Makes It Real - When Martian Manhunter is trying to extract information from a captive's mind in "Starcrossed", the injuries inflicted by the mind's defenses also appear on his physical body, including his cape. As a shapeshifter, his "normal" appearance, even his uniform, is a creation of his mind and it can change at his will; when his mental self-image is being clawed by birds, his mind creates the slashes on his body (See also Body Horror).
- Your Worst Nightmare - Dr. Destiny subjects most of the league to this. We do not get to see Batman's, but when Destiny taunts him with the prospect, he sneers, "You have no idea what my nightmares are like."
- Zerg Rush: The staff aboard the Watchtower in Unlimited are normal humans without either power or special skills, they are never even established as having basic combat training, but when the station is boarded in "Panic in the Sky" and a large group is cornered by a large dinosaur they look at each other and then charge at it en masse.