Based upon the Milestone Comics series simply titled Static, created by Dwayne McDuffie, and one of the rare instances where a comic book's creator is also the main creative force behind the Animated Adaptation. The main character, Virgil Hawkins, is the son of a man who runs a youth center. When a bunch of experimental gas explodes, it grants him and some other teenagers a wide variety of offbeat superpowers (it also mutates various animals and at least one fungus). This event is later referred to as "the Big Bang" and the mutant metahumans are known as "Bang Babies," as the Big Bang was the start of their new lives.
Virgil has been best friends with Richie Foley for years, although there is friction when Richie's father is revealed as a racist. In the cartoon, it is later revealed that Richie is a Bang Baby as well; he's become a technical genius and adopts the superhero moniker Gear. In the comics Virgil had a different friend named Richie who was openly gay; Word of God states that the two Richies are not the same character, but the Richie from the series is likewise gay.
Adam Evans, a.k.a. Rubberband Man, a shapeshifter who initially appeared as a villain, is another major character. During the course of the series, he reformed and became a good guy, even dating Virgil's sister at one point. There were other villains and supporting heroes, some more interesting than others.
In later seasons, the show began to slide away from its original characteristics. Many later episodes focused on celebrity guest-stars and featured real-life athletes in primary roles, occasionally as super-heroes themselves. The show became less about gangs as time went on, regularly featuring Anvilicious aesops. At the same time, almost all traces of gang warfare and other urban issues were dropped, in favor of having Static go up against random metahumans or teaming up with another superhero every week.
There were a few crossovers between Static Shock and other DC Animated Universe series, despite the fact that the original Milestone comics weren't set in The DCU. Early episodes openly portrayed characters like Superman to be entirely fictional, and even had Virgil talking about Clark Kent as a secret identity like it was nothing; in the second season, however, they had the two-parter "The Big Leagues", a crossover with Batman: The Animated Series where the Joker comes to Dakota, with the Dark Knight soon on his heels. Later episodes also featured Superman, the Justice League, a separate appearance by Green Lantern John Stewart, an episode based around a Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy team-up and even a trip to the future of Batman Beyond, where Static meets his future self (now considered one of the most powerful heroes on the planet). Going the other way, Static himself makes an appearance in the Justice League Unlimited first season finale.
- Academy of Adventure - The accident that created the metahuman surge occurred in the midst of a fight between teenaged gangs; most the victims of the Bang were students at the same school as Virgil, and villains arose from the student body throughout the series.
- Action Girl - She-Bang
- Actor Allusion - Neil Patrick Harris as a washed up child actor.
- Adaptation Distillation - Virgil's Mother, who had a large presence in the comics, was given a Death by Origin Story in this series. It wasn't totally bad however, as it led to a stronger portrayal of his dad.
- Adorkable - If you don't believe Virgil and Richie are this, you haven't seen the show.
- All Up to You - Richie in "Gear"
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle - "Jimmy" and "Where the Rubber Meets the Road".
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
Static: Let's see, so far I have you [Ferret] down for robbery, vandalism and excessive cruelty to produce.
- Art Evolution - The first two seasons featured almost-painfully bright, solid colors and fairly traditional character designs. Starting with the third season, the artwork became more angular and the colors were toned down.
- Artificial Human - She-Bang, again
- Ax Crazy - Shiv, he even told Joker that he is a big fan of his work; it does not help that he can literally turn his arms into an ax.
- Bad Job, Worse Uniform - The original Burger Fool, in which Virgil himself worked for an episode.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Edwin Alva Sr, completely disappointed with his son, Edwin Jr stated that he'd be better off with a statue due to what a failure Jr is. Guess what he gets at the end of the episode.
- The "B" Grade:
- A classmate of Ritchie and Virgil became violently angry when he got a 99 percent on a test instead of the usual one hundred.
- Richie gets one of these during the series finale. It's the first hint he's losing his Bang Baby super smarts.
- Big Bad - Ebon
- Big Eater - Richie, and his future self shows what happens when you continue your habits as your metabolism lowers.
- Black Best Friend - Neatly inverted. Richie is the White Best Friend to a black protagonist, in a work where most of the major characters are black.
- Bloodless Carnage - Richie is accidentally shot in "Jimmy" and there is not even a single drop of blood.
- Brain Puppet Apocalypse - blame it on Madelyn Spaulding.
- Breakout Character - Gear; Richie's popularity led to him getting promoted to hero in Season 3.
- Brought Down to Normal - Temporarily in the series finale. Almost every other Bang Baby seemed to lose their powers for good, though.
- Burger Fool - Trope Namer
- Cain and Abel - Ebon and Rubberband Man.
- Camera Spoofing
- Canon Immigrant - while Static did exist prior to the animated show, its popularity led his looks and uniform to change matching his TV appearance (at least for the first two seasons).
- Captain Ersatz - Soul Power, who was created because they weren't allowed to use Black Lightning. Sparky seems completely original, surprisingly.
- Chained Heat - Static and Hot Streak once. The "heat" part being literal.
- Clark Kenting - Both Static and Gear have masks to cover their faces, though in Gear's case his helmet's visor appears see through for the viewers since it covers his completely as opposed to Static's Domino Mask.
- Comic Books Are Real
- Composite Character - Richie is a combination of Rick Stone (same appearance) and Frieda (Secret Keeper). Interestingly enough, Frieda appears here too, but as a Muggle, while the role of Virgil's Love Interest is passed over to Daisy.
- Compressed Vice
- Contagious Powers - It takes some time, but Richie has a delayed effect (that took two whole seasons) from the Bang-Baby residue to become an inventing genius gadgeteer superhero, Gear.
- Cool Loser - Virtually every heroic character in the series.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive - Edwin Alva Sr.
- Costume Copycat - Static, Rubber Band Man, and Green Lantern.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy - As revealed in the Superman crossover, Toyman is very genre savvy by giving Darcy's new biological body a kill gene in the event she back-stabs him. As he puts it, he may be a fool in love but he isn't stupid.
- The DCU
- Demoted to Extra - Frieda, especially in comparison to her role in the comic series. She starts the show as Virgil's primary love interest, and is actually the first "civilian" to speak to Static, but after Daisy is introduced she quickly becomes superfluous to both the plot of the show and the relationships between the characters.
- Early Installment Weirdness - The show wasn't originally part of the DCAU despite being made by the same production team; some episodes in the first season refer to Superman and other DC heroes as fictional.
- Electric Joy Buzzer:
- In "The Big Leagues": Static uses it to beat Joker after the Joker's own joybuzzer did not work on him.
- In the episode "Future Shock," with one of the Jokerz. It goes about as well as it did for the original.
- Electric Slide - Soul Power uses this a lot.
- Empathic Weapon - Gear's Backpack.
- Embarrassing Middle Name - Virgil Ovid Hawkins.
- "Sharon, my middle name is NEVER to be spoken aloud. You know that."
- Enemy Mine - Seen in "Romeo in the Mix" (Static + Hotstreak + Ebon + Talon trying to escape Leech) and "No Man's an Island" (Static and Hotstreak spend most of the episode cooperating - see Ho Yay up ahead).
- Evil Redheads - Hotstreak, who also has blond highlights to keep with his fire motif.
- Expy - They have fun with it. ("Sooooooouuuul Power!")
- Family-Friendly Firearms - Frequently played straight, but averted in both that Virgil's mother was killed by a regular gun, and in one (Anvilicious) episode about the dangers of gun violence.
- Fat Bastard - Slipstream
- Flight of Romance: Static woos Frieda this way in the first episode. He later does the same thing with his later love interest, Daisy.
- Flying Firepower - Static can use Shock and Awe and use his electricity powers to fly.
- Former Child Star - Replay
- Future Badass: Static becomes one of the most powerful DC heroes in the future.
- Genre Savvy - Virgil and Richie are into comic books and live in The DCU.
Gear: Wow, I just got my ankle X-rayed by Superman! I'm never gonna wash it again!
- Girlish Pigtails: Sharon
- Glowing Eyes of Doom - A common side-effect of the metahuman gas.
- Green Lantern Ring - Both literally and as a trope for several characters.
- Green Rocks - Big Bang gas.
- Guess Who I'm Dating - Rubberband Man and Sharon (though they seem to be in an on-again-off-again by "Bad Stretch")
- Hall of Mirrors
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?? - Word Of God (a little over halfway down the page) explains that this is how they hinted at Richie's sexuality, by having him repeatedly make suggestive comments in order to cover up his urges.
- Heel Face Turn:
- Rubberband Man was initially a villain who reformed and became a recurring hero who worked with Static.
- Bang Babies Nightingale and Brick betray Ebon when he tries to block out the sun.
- Talon in the series finale after she reverts back to her human form.
- Hide Your Gays: Word of God says that Richie is gay, but the show never dealt with or revealed this fact.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Onyx and Puff, respectively.
- Hulk Speak: The monster in the episode "Tantrum". He's even an Expy of Hulk, only purple instead of green.
- Humanshifting: Replicon aka Marvin does this trope best during "Duped"
- I Have Your Wife - Virgil's father in the episode "Kidnapped", and Richie/Gear several times, "Sons of the Fathers" and "Hoop Squad" being two episodes.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Briefly in the Justice League Crossover, Static does this to Gear possessed by Braniac.
- Improvised Weapon
- Ink Suit Actor - The cameos of real life celebrities (Shaquille O'Neal, AJ McLean, Karl Malone, Li'l Romeo - who performed the show's theme from the third season onwards) plus Replikon, who was appropriately enough voiced by Coolio.
- In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Gear's helmet. It protects his identity, despite the fact that the viewer can see his face perfectly through it.
- Inverse Law of Complexity to Power - The average Villain of the Week has a narrower power, while Static himself has lightning powers with Lightning Can Do Anything in full force. The two Big Bads have Darkness and Fire powers.
- Ironic Superhero Name: Static, ostensibly, refers to static electricity. It can also mean something fixed or stationary, lacking movement or vitality, or showing little change. Virgil is none of those things, in either the comics or TV series.
- Though when his powers first manifest he has a severe case of Static Cling with his bed sheets.
- James Bondage - Richie, so, very, very much. That he escapes on his own is the only thing that maintains him being semi-badass.
- The Jimmy Hart Version - Of the NFL theme in "Linked".
- Jerkass: Primary mentions go to Specs and Trapper, who arrogantly believe that everybody is beneath them because "they're smarter".
- Jumped At the Call
- Let's You and Him Fight - Static vs. Terry McGinnis when he's flung forward in time.
- Leitmotif - Every character with powers, at least
- Lighter and Softer - In the original comics, the 'Big Bang' was not an accident, but an attempt by the authorities to spray gang members with a radioactive marker to track them down; it gave them superpowers instead. To give credit where credit is due, the show did keep the circumstances as a gang war between rival thugs, and Virgil was given an actual gun instead of a laser.
- Lightning Can Do Anything - Static electricity, actually.
- Limited Wardrobe - Static and Richie do change shirts from time to time, but Hotstreak and the other villains who wear casual clothes while terrorizing the public seem to be attached to their look.
- L Is for Dyslexia - Rubberband Man in "When The Rubber Meets The Road".
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop - Averted with She-Bang, played straight virtually every other time.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: Most of the member's of Ebon's gang have these.
- Mad Scientist
- Master of Delusion - Almost every major character.
- Merchandise-Driven - Originally designed to sell a GBA game.
- Mass Super-Empowering Event - The Big Bang was responsible for most, but not all, metahumans in the series.
- Mundane Utility - Static himself does it a lot, especially early on. He even uses his powers to grab his keys in the opening credits!
- Named After Somebody Famous: Static is named after two Roman poets, Virgil and Ovid.
- Never Found the Body: Ebon and Hot-Streak, combined or otherwise.
- Old Superhero - Soul Power.
- Overclocking Attack - "A League of Their Own"
- Overprotective Dad - Mr. Hawkins.
- Personality Powers - Hotstreak has anger issues; Boom is loud and obnoxious. Surprisingly rare in the series, though; most Bang Babies' powers don't mirror their personalities.
- Playing Against Type: Richard Horvitz, best known as Billy and Zim, plays the bullying victim Jimmy.
- Power Incontinence: All Static's electricity is released in an EMP if he gets wet while charged up. There was also one time that his powers fluctuated wildly due to interference from a solar flare.
- Reality Warper - One of the "villains", a kid who uses his powers to shapeshift rubbish into tasty junk food and makes a fountain spew orange soda.
- Recursive Adaptation - Averted. All the other DC cartoons to this very day have comics based on them, but the Static Shock comic is simply the Static comic with the show's logo slapped on.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning - Hotstreak and, oddly, the Joker.
- Retired Badass: Soul Power
- Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory - lampshaded in "Flashback".
- Rogues Gallery
- An Ice Person: Permafrost (only for the Christmas episode, and even then she was not evil)
- Blow You Away: Slipstream
- Breath Weapon: Puff
- Combat Tentacles: Chainlink (and Dule, who was his victim)
- Combo-Platter Powers: Omnifarious (this one was Hoist by His Own Petard)
- Liquid Assets: Leech
- Living Shadow: Ebon (much possibly Static's archenemy)
- Make Me Wanna Shout: Talon, Boom
- Making a Splash: Aquamaria
- Me's a Crowd: Replay
- Mind Over Matter: Madelyn, the second time
- People Puppets: Madelyn, the first time
- Playing with Fire: Hotstreak
- Rubber Man: Rubberband Man (he had a Heel Face Turn later)
- Super Strength: Hyde, Onyx, Monster, Tantrum
- The Nose Knows: Ferret
- Terrible Trio: Run, Jump, and (very briefly) Richie as Push
- Rollerblade Good - Gear
- Running Gag: The superpowered characters (usually Static and Gear) are frequently knocked/thrown into dumpsters during fights. Lampshaded by Gear.
Gear: Dumpster. Why is it always a dumpster?
- Scary Black Man - Ebon plays this astoundingly straight: deep voice, and he's probably the closest the show gets to a Complete Monster. His name literally means "black" (because he has control over shadows). He usually appears pitch-black (except for a grey vest, glowing eyes, and a light purple glow around the edges, as if facing away from a faint light).
- Secret Keeper - Richie, before becoming Gear. Virgil's dad at the end of the series, though deep down he always knew.
- Sequel Hook: Despite being the Series Finale, it was left open how many Bang Babies may have been repowered by the end of the episode, or if Ebon and Hot-Streak had really met their end or if they could still be a threat.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong - "Flashback"
- Shapeshifter Showdown - "Bad Stretch"
- Shock and Awe
- Shout-Out - When brainstorming nicknames for Richie's tech-suit identity: "How 'bout Hardware?" "I think it's taken."
- In the Superman crossover episode, "Toys in the Hood", Static fights a bunch of clown robots created by Toyman, prompting him to quip "Man, this Clown Posse really IS Insane".
- In the first episode, when Virgil is trying on potential outfits, one of them is that of Black Vulcan. Richie dismisses it as looking like a battery commercial.
- In "Big Leagues", Static imitates Star Trek's Captain Kirk when using the Bat Wings to locate Batman and Robin
Static: "Computer. Engage. Autopilot. Find Batman and. Robin."
- Sidekick Glass Ceiling - Richie, played straight and then subverted. When he first gained the Green Lantern Ring style powers and lost them, and later when he gained super intelligence.
- Super Empowering
- Super Serum / Psycho Serum
- Talking to Himself
- Talking to the Dead
- Taken for Granite - Omnifarious. And it's an EXTREMELY cruel irony; Omnifarius became said villain because his father, the Corrupt Corporate Executive, cared more about his company than his son. And how does he prove this?
Alva: Edwin Alva Junior, my legacy. I'd be better off with a statue.
- Technopath - Gear and possibly Tech.
- Teens Are Monsters
- Although there is the implication later that the Bang Baby juice causes some of the monster behavior. Both Aqua Maria and Talon seemed much nicer after they were depowered.
- Even Heroes Have Heroes - Static meets John Stewart, his hero on multiple levels. However, the initial meeting has somewhat less squeeing than usual because Stewart is arriving after Sinestro has been impersonating him to commit crimes.
- Thicker Than Water
- This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman - Static says this word-for-word in the episode "Wet and Wild."
- This Loser Is You - Quite well averted. Virgil and Richie are teenage comic book geeks, almost a personification of the intended target audience, but manage to make their quirks and foibles work.
- Those Two Bad Guys - Specs and Trapper.
- Puff and Onyx too.
- Token White - Maybe, maybe not. Richie is by far the most prominent of all white characters in a very diverse cast, but he is not the only one present. Frieda, the original love interest of Virgil, was white, as were other characters who popped up throughout the series.
- Took a Level in Badass - Canonically, Static becomes one of the most powerful heroes in the DCU as a mature adult.
- Totally Whack
- Trick Bomb - Gear made a shock bomb that Static could use if he ran out of juice, and a net bomb that shot a net out when it hit something.
- Very Special Episode - Several; the most prominent ones focused on racism, guns, dyslexia, drugs addiction, and poverty.
- The comics dealt with these issues a lot as well - partly because the publisher, Milestone Comics's main focus was adding more diversity to superhero comics, so it makes sense that the cartoon would have these.
- Villains Blend in Better: Replicon easily impersonates Mr Bigg of a record company, a statue, and even a store clerk.
- What Could Have Been - Originally they wanted Static to team-up with Black Lightning. Soul Power was created instead.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It was never revealed what happened to Wade from the first episode. Nor was he mentioned again.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Richie felt this way when they first realized he was getting smarter.
- Whole-Episode Flashback - Both the first and last episodes of the first season, as well as the last episode of the second.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy - Edwin Alva Jr.
- Specs and Trapper too, though they're not Alva's sons.
- Word of Gay - According to Dwayne McDuffie, Richie's character is gay both in the original comic series and the cartoon series.  Dwayne McDuffie has said that he hinted at this fact through Richie's overly-enthusiastic statements to the contrary.
- the only member of the Hoop Squad who was voiced by himself; Steve Nash, Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady had other voice actors