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File:Superfriends.jpg


The show that determined more of what you (used to) know (or think) about superheroes than even the Adam West Batman.

This long-running Hanna-Barbera series, which ran on ABC from 1973 to 1986, featured superheroes from DC Comics. The core heroes were Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman and Robin. Originally, they were joined by "Junior Superfriends" Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog. The series' first season, in 1973-4, consisted of hourlong stories, most of which concerned current issues such as energy conservation; the "criminal" was usually a Well-Intentioned Extremist with benign motives, who is usually easily persuaded to a more reasonable stand at the end.

Subsequent seasons could conceivably be considered separate series, not unlike Super Sentai AKA Power Rangers:

  • The series was revived in 1977 as The All-New Superfriends Hour, with some reworking of the concept. Most notably, the "Junior Superfriends" were replaced with the shape-shifting Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, and their monkey, Gleek, who, unlike their predecessors, had actual semi-useful (if occasionally silly) superpowers. Episodes typically contained more action and less Anvilicious point-making and plodding stories. This and subsequent seasons included short segments on health, safety and stage magic. The All-New Superfriends Hour was divided into two parts: one half-hour episode, and another half hour of Three Shorts, which typically followed a pattern: first, two of the original four heroes; then, a short spotlighting the new Wonder Twins; then, the main story with the entire team; and finally, an episode spotlighting one established hero and introducing another hero, who generally would later appear on the next series:
  • Challenge of the Superfriends in 1978 had the largest cast of the various series: 11 heroes and 13 villains (see Heroes Unlimited). Three of the more notable heroes not present were the Wonder Twins and Gleek. By this time, the stories began to resemble those found in the actual comic books, although some of the heroes and villains existed only in animation, including four new "Minority" heroes, Black Vulcan (Black), Apache Chief (Native American), El Dorado (Mexican), and Samurai (Asian). It also introduced the original Legion of Doom, a group of the Superfriends' greatest enemies united to conquer the world with plans none of them could complete alone. The most fondly remembered series, it evolved as it went on. Most episodes focused on a MacGuffin, and early episodes ended with a Villain Exit Stage Left, as if actually capturing the Legion would end their threat, despite the fact that's never how it works in comic books (see Failure Is the Only Option, Joker Immunity, Cardboard Prison). Once they got over that, later episodes raised the stakes and had the Legion introduce ever greater threats, with episode titles starting to take on names like "The Final Challenge" and "Doomsday." The penultimate episode involved the Superfriends being picked off one by one by a "Noxium Crystal" but ultimately being revealed as robots; the final episode begins After the End, as we follow a group of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens as they encounter the scene and wonder what happened. It turns out the Legion fired a solar flare at Earth, and with Superman out of commission, the Superfriends activated their "global force field"; the mixture of the two bathed the earth in deadly radiation. It ultimately ends with the aliens using Time Travel to push the inevitable Reset Button, moving the moon in the path of the flare (seriously). Originally was still part of an hour-long show; the episodes they ran with, which included the core five and the Wonder Twins, are now very rare and almost entirely forgotten, and the last six were out-and-out Missing Episodes until a 2005 DVD release contained this entire group.
  • World's Greatest Superfriends, 1979: Core five members and the Wonder Twins. Only eight episodes; one Whole-Plot Reference after another. The only two exceptions are a Mirror Universe and an Homage to Superman The Movie. Mostly ran with reruns originally, which helps explain it.
  • From 1980-3, new episodes came in the form of shorts, which generally followed a subtle form of A B A structure, with A teaming one or two of the Core Five with another hero, almost always one appearing on Challenge, although these shorts did introduce El Dorado, essentially a Token Minority. The second series aired in the first season not to be originally aired as an hour-long show. The third series were originally only shown abroad, as the show had been cancelled in the US, and made up another set of Missing Episodes until the 1990s.
  • The show was revived again in 1984 as the Merchandise-Driven Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, intended to tie in with the Super Powers toy line from Kenner. The show consisted of two 15-minute shorts, except for some two-part half-hours. It introduced Firestorm, who was so heavily spotlighted as to be accused of being a Marty Stu. This was also the series that introduced Darkseid and his fellow villainous New Gods of Apokolips to animation, a decade before Superman: The Animated Series, although many aspects of his personality were toned down from the original, and he was given a bizarre fixation on making Wonder Woman his bride.
  • The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, 1985. Hanna-Barbera gave the show a Retool, eliminating all but one of the characters they created themselves (including the Wonder Twins), introducing Cyborg from the comic books (nearly twenty years before he next appeared in animation in Teen Titans) who replaced Black Vulcan, redoing the character designs, calling the group "The Super Powers Team" instead of the Superfriends, and adding a more Heroes Unlimited feel. The main connection to the previous series was the voices and the villains, as Darkseid was still around (now redesigned to look closer to how his creator, Jack Kirby, intended). Some of the episodes were darker and more somber than prior ones. Especially the episode dealing with Batman's origin, which just may have the most powerful performance Adam West ever gave in the role.

And that was that, until Justice League came along. Many thanks to Will's Super Friends Episode Guide and Challenge of the Superfriends.

This show was very campy in its day, Challenge included (although the last couple of seasons began to veer away from this atmosphere), and used many of the worst Animation Tropes. Despite many of the superheroes' portrayals as rather bland, the show also had the unfortunate effect of inexplicably tainting the reputations of Aquaman and Hawkman among the general public (see This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman). Although Aquaman, especially recently, has been more of a King Arthur figure than a traditional brawler, the main problem was the show's general Media Watchdogs-induced abhorrence of violence and actual fighting. While Superman could fly, lift heavy things and melt metal things, Batman had his cool gadgets, and Wonder Woman had her invisible jet and Lasso of Truth, Aquaman could basically breathe under water and talk to animals, and Hawkman could fly ... and nothing else.

There was also a tie-in Super Friends Comic Book series for a while. It wasn't half-bad, once it started departing from the strict guidelines of the television show. It's best remembered now for the Canon Immigrant "Global Guardians" team that it created as a team of Captain Ethnic heroes.

Recently, there's a new "Super Friends" toy line and associated comic book, this one featuring Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the John Stewart Green Lantern. While the current comic uses an extremely cartoony art-style, it has been praised for its imaginative plots and affection for the more bizarre corners of DCU mythos.

In 2010, Warner Bros. Animation made DC Super Friends, a 17-minute short for Fisher-Price as a tie-in for their range of DC Super Friends toys, packing it as a DVD bonus with select products. They might make more segments depending of sales.

See Seanbaby's Super Friends Page for a snarky and sarcastic take on the series.


Trope Namer for:

Tropes used in Superfriends include:


  • Absent-Minded Professor: Maximus Mole in the 1973-74 episode "The Mysterious Moles".
  • Aliens Speaking English: Occurs in four 1973-74 season episodes.
  • All There in the Manual: The Tv show never explained why Marvin and Wendy were there. The comics do, however: Wendy's uncle was a policeman who trained and helped young Bruce Wayne, and Marvin's mother was the woman whose name Wonder Woman took her civilian name from (Diana Prince).
  • Amphibious Automobile: 1973-74 episode "The Weather Makers". The villains have a car that can operate as a speedboat.
  • An Aesop: 1973-74 season episodes always had several, usually including: (1) Even in a good cause, always obey the law (2) Solve problems by thinking, not brute force (3) Protect the environment.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Especially in All-New Super Friends where there are safety and health tips, a two part riddle pertaining the show's main story and simple arts and crafts projects.
  • And That's Terrible: 1973-74 episode "The Weather Maker". The Super Friends' comments when the Big Bad turns his Weather Control Machine to "Irreversibly On".
  • Animated Series
  • Art Evolution: The Galactic Guardians version has a significantly upgraded art style even compared to the series just one season prior.
  • Artistic License Biology: 1973-74 series episode "The Watermen. When the title aliens extract silicon from sea water, it causes the sea water to immediately turn into red tide. Just one problem: red tide is caused by microorganisms, not a lack of silicon. This is Lampshaded when Professor Matey notes that it should be impossible.
    • Of course, these aliens also looked exactly like people and spoke English, making the red tide gaffe rather minor in comparison.
  • Aside Glance: Both Marvin and Wonder Dog in the 1973-74 series.
  • As You Know: In the 1973-74 episode "Too Hot To Handle", Professor Von Knowalot explains basic solar system astronomy to the Super Friends.
  • Badass in Distress: Wonder Woman tended to be kidnapped, brainwashed, or subject to the Legion of Doom's machinations more frequently than the rest of the Superfriends.
    • Same with Black Vulcan and later Cyborg.
  • Big Electric Switch: Superman uses one to send electricity through freon coils in the 1973-74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Wendy speaks to the audience in the 1973-74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War".
  • But What About the Astronauts?: A spell sending the Earth back to the Stone Age doesn't affect Skylab in space, and the astronauts help the Superfriends save the day.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: 1973-74 episodes The Power Pirate", "The Planet Splitter" and "The Shamon U".
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Most blatant in the original Wonder Twins solo stories where teenagers engage in some specific unacceptable activity and quickly find themselves in mortal peril because of it and the Twins have to rescue them.
  • Canon Immigrant: The Wonder Twins immigrated into the mainstream DC Universe as members of the Justice League International spin-off, Extreme Justice. Wendy and Marvin also appeared in a 2006 issue of Teen Titans, one year after Infinite Crisis. And then, Wonder Dog kills Marvin by mauling him to death and injures Wendy so seriously that she's left paraplegic.
    • Apache Chief (and the rest of the Super Friends-exclusive heroes) also appears in Captain Ersatz form in the DCAU, although with a Darker and Edgier backstory.
    • The Wendy & Marvin in Teen Titans bore little resemblance to the the Superfriends characters. They were fraternal twins, whereas the pair in the animated series were not related to one another.
    • Wendy and Marvin later appeared in Young Justice, appearing much closer to their original designs than they did in the comics.
    • An analogue for Apache Chief/Longshadow has also been spotted in Young Justice.
  • Captain Ethnic: The Asian Samurai, the Black Black Vulcan, the Native American Apache Chief, the Hispanic El Dorado.
  • Captain Ersatz: They created Black Vulcan, an electrically powered black man, instead of using DC's existing electrically-powered black man, Black Lightning. Rumor has it that this stems from a creative rights dispute with Lightning's creator, Tony Isabella; decades later, DC refused to let Black Lightning appear as a Guest Star on Static Shock. They couldn't use Black Vulcan either, so a new character, Soul Power, was created. How often do you get a Captain Ersatz of a Captain Ersatz?
  • Catchphrase
    • Batman would say, "Great Gotham!"
  • "Great Krypton," "Great Hera," and the most infamous, "Great Lightning!"
    • In the 1973-74 season Wendy would often say "Let's go tell the Super Friends" when the kids found out something.
  • Color Character: Green Lantern and Black Vulcan.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The Legion of Doom invents teleportation, invisibility, Time Travel, and casually constructs an entire planet inside a black hole ... and they use these marvels to rob banks and attempt to foil one or two of their enemies.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In "The Power Pirate", the first episode of the 1973-74 season.
  • Easily-Conquered World: In Challenge of the Superfriends, near the end of any given episode, there's a good chance that the Legion of Doom will either have temporary control of the world or just barely be thwarted.
  • Elemental Shapeshifter: Zan could transform into various forms of water and ice.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: 1973-74 episodes "The Power Pirate", "The Weather Maker", "The Shamon U" and "The Balloon People".
  • Expo Label: Multiple examples in 1973-74 season episodes.
  • Faking the Dead: Professor Ansel Hillbrand fakes his death in a deep sea diving accident so he can become the title villain in the 1973-74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War".
  • Fictional Country: Glacia, frozen homeland of the villains in the 1973-74 episode "The Weather Maker".
  • Five-Man Band
  • For Science!: The Raven in the Backstory of the 1973-74 episode "Menace of the White Dwarf".
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: 1973-74 episode "The Shamon U". One of Dr. Shamon's devices is a giant laser.
  • Fun Personified: The Wonder Twins
  • Fungus Humongous: 1973-74 episode "The Mysterious Moles". While exploring underground, Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog encounter a stream with giant mushrooms growing along the banks.
  • Got Me Doing It: 1973-74 episode "The Balloon People". Twisty affects Dr. Noah Tall.
  • Great Gazoo: Mr. Mxyzptlk
  • Guilty Pleasure
  • Hand Rubbing: 1973-74 season examples: Dr. Rebos in "The Androids" and Dr. Noah Tall in "The Balloon People".
  • Henpecked Husband: 1973-74 episode "The Mysterious Moles". Maximums Mole is very weak-willed and dominated by his wife Minimus Mole.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Casey Kasem as Robin
  • Hollywood Magnetism: In the 1973-74 episode "The Shamon U", a "special gold-attracting magnet" is used to pull solid gold meteors to Earth.
  • Humanity's Wake
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes
  • Improvised Zipline: Batman and Robin in the 1973-74 episode "The Shamon U".
  • Joker Jury: The 1973-74 episode "The Menace of the White Dwarf" and the Challenge episode "Trial of the Superfriends".
  • Juggling Freeze Guns: Marvin manages to get the Villain of the Day's freeze weapon and threatens him with it. The villain smugly tells him to fire away because he (and the audience) can clearly see he's holding the weapon backward. In order to demonstrate that he was just as stupid, Zan later did the same thing with a transformation gun.
  • Jungle Princess: Rima
  • Legion of Doom: The Trope Namer
  • Leotard of Power: Several, but Black Vulcan's sleeved leotard is the main contender.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Applies only to Wendy and Marvin.
  • Lost World: 1973-74 episode "The Mysterious Moles". Deep under the earth is the Bottomless Cave: a gigantic cavern filled with plants, lakes and dinosaurs.
  • Meaningful Name: Many examples in the 1973-74 season.
  • Mind Over Matter: In the 1973-74 episode "The Balloon People", the title characters have modest telekinetic power. When acting together, they can move a doghouse.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: 1973-74 episode "The Planet Splitter". The theft of diamonds weighing 100+ carats -> A plot to split Cygnus Uno, a planet in another solar system.
  • Mirrored Confrontation Shot: The Title Sequence of Challenge of the Superfriends.
  • The Mole: Several in the 1973-74 series.
  • Monumental Theft: In the 1973-74 episode "Menace of the White Dwarf" Raven uses a fragment of a white dwarf star to steal the Washington Monument.
  • Motionless Chin
  • Murder Water
  • Mythology Gag: In Alex Ross' Justice, The Joker is furious that the other supervillains have left him out of their Legion of Doom. The Joker wasn't a part of the Legion of Doom in the animated series.
  • Never Found the Body: 1973-74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". Dr. Ansel Hillbrand died in a deep sea diving accident five years earlier but his body was never found. Guess who the Big Bad turns out to be?
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Zan and Jayna were almost certainly modeled on Donnie and Marie Osmond, who had a popular variety show that ran from 1976-1978, as evidenced by their catch-phrase, "Spacey, Zan -- really spacey," copped from the Osmonds' "Cute, Marie -- real cute."
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Raven to Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog in the 1973-74 episode "Menace of the White Dwarf"
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Wonder Dog in first season, Gleek afterward.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: In the 1973-74 season the main heroes did this to Wendy and Marvin on a regular basis when the kids were trying to tell them something important.
  • Oh My Gods:
    • "Great Krypton"
    • "Great Hera"
    • "Great Gotham"
    • "Great Lightning!"
  • The Other Darrin: By The Super Powers Team, Superman and Robin were the only ones with their original voice actors.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: 1973-74 episode "The Androids". When Dr. Rebos puts on a small hat neither Batman nor Superman can recognize him.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party
  • Pun-Based Title: 1973-74 episode "The Shamon U" (i.e. "Shame on you").
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Raven in the 1973-74 episode "Menace of the White Dwarf".
  • Reverse Polarity: 1973-74 episode "The Shamon U". Professor Shamon reverses the polarity on his giant electromagnet to repel the Batmobile.
  • Riddling Sphinx: In one episode, the sphinx asks Batman and Robin, "What builds up castles and tears down mountains, makes some men blind and helps others to see?" The answer: "sand". The sphinx is a Sore Loser and attacks them anyway, but they quickly defeat it.
  • Road Sign Reversal: 1973-74 episode "The Fantastic Frerps". King Plasto's diversion trick.
  • Security Cling: Wonder Dog jumps into Marvin's arms in the 1973-74 episodes "The Planet Splitter", "The Baffles Puzzle" and "The Power Pirate".
  • Shout Out: The 1973-74 episode "Dr. Pelagian's War".
  • Shrink Ray: 1973-74 episode "Gulliver's Gigantic Goof". The villain Dr. Hiram Gulliver uses one on the Superfriends.
  • Significant Anagram: King Plasto/Roy La Post in the 1973-74 episode "The Fantastic FRERPS".
  • Silver Age
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Happened all the time. Superman was the usual victim.
  • Speech-Impaired Animal: Wonder Dog
  • Spies in a Van: In the 1973-74 episode "The Balloon People" Dr. Noah Tall and Twisty use one to spy on the title characters.
  • Spinning Paper: 1973-74 episode "The Balloon People". "Balloon People land on Earth."
  • Spit Take: Dr. Rebos in the 1973-74 episode "The Androids".
  • Spoonerism: 1973-74 episode "The Balloon People". Dr. Noah Tall's assistant Twisty. By the end, he has Noah Tall doing it.
  • Spring Coil: A villain in the 1973-74 episode "The Ultra Scam" has shoes with springs in the sole.
  • Standardized Leader: Superman
  • Straw Feminism: Evil genius Medulla from "Mind Maidens" created a device to Mind Control women (and of course Wondy and Jayna were among the victims) and enable them to cause men to vanish with a look.
    • Then there was Dr. Amy Zahn, who wanted women to be equally superior to men.
  • Step Three: Profit
  • Stock Footage
  • Superhero
  • Talking Animal: Jayna in animal form, Gorilla Grodd, Wonder Dog.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Dr. Rebos in the 1973-74 season episode "The Androids".
  • The Team Normal: Batman and Robin. Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog in the 1973-74 season.
  • Temporal Paradox - A Grandfather Paradox in the Challenge of the Superfriends episode "Secret Origins Of The Super Friends".
  • Tempting Fate: Marvin in the 1973-74 episode "Too Hot to Handle"
  • That's an Order: The captain of the cruise ship Queen Victoria says it to a subordinate.
  • This Looks Like a Job For Aquaman
  • Totally Radical: In the first episode of the 1973-74 season, "The Power Pirate", Wendy and Marvin spoke like 60's hippies, regularly used terms like "groovy", "cool", "right on" and "far out".
  • Tracking Device: 1973-74 episode "The Planet Splitter". The Super Friends put microdot homing devices on the remaining 100+ carat diamonds so they csn be tracked down after they're stolen.
  • Trick Arrow: Appearing in only one episode, Green Arrow made good use of them. Even if he and everyone else had been shrunk.
  • Underwear of Power: Almost everyone, but Robin and Black Vulcan are the most notable.
  • The Unpronounceable: Mxyzptlk's name is always pronounced "MIX-ul-plick" by the SuperFriends.
  • Unusual Euphemism: 1973-74 episodes "The Mysterious Moles" ("Oh ding ding blathering blithers!") and "The Shamon U" ("Oh pistachios!").
  • Van in Black: 1973-74 episode "The Balloon People". Dr. Noah Tall's spy van, the "Snoop Wagon".
  • We Could Have Avoided All This: 1973-74 episodes "Too Hot To Handle", "Weather Maker" and "The Watermen".
  • We Don't Need Roads: 1973-74 episode "Too Hot To Handle". The aliens have a fire truck that can convert into a rocket ship and fly.
  • We Only Have One Chance: Not technically the trope namer, but might as well have been.
  • Weather Control Machine: In the 1973-74 episode "The Weather Maker", an underwater nuclear powered jet engine can control the weather by changing the course of the Gulf Stream.
  • Went to the Great X In the Sky: When Lex Luthor has Superman nearly beaten, he says that Superman will soon be going 'to that great Hall of Justice in the sky'.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Aquaman became this to viewers.
    • As well as Hawkman, whose only power (flight) wasn't even provided by his own wings.
    • On the villain's side, Scarecrow and Black Manta suffered from this as well. As Seanbaby put it, Black Manta's superpower is that he owns a boat.
      • Better than Riddler- his power is giving away their plans.
    • And don't forget Zan of the Wonder Twins. Jayna's power is kind of cool: she can turn into any sort of animal from any planet. Zan turns into water. And ice. And unlikely ice constructions. That's it. Congratulations, Zan, you just made Aquaman look cool by comparison.
      • And some old Cartoon Network ads lampooned this without mercy. "I could be defeated by a sponge! And it wouldn't even have to be an evil sponge!"
      • And he's another underutilization case. Just ask Marvel's Hydro-Man what you can do with that power.
  • Wheel-O-Feet: Multiple examples in 1973-74 season episodes
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him: The villains on this show love death traps and other needlessly complex schemes.
    • Averted in the episode "Super Friends: Rest in Peace" where Lex Luthor invents an amazing device: a gun...that can kill people! (Okay, so one of those people is Superman, but still.) The Legion of Doom seemingly takes out all the Super Friends with this incredible weapon -- which they throw away when they're finished. But then it turns out to have all been a ruse by the heroes, to ambush the Legion and arrest them.
      • Did we mention that the Crystal in question was created by a Dr. Natas... What's that Flip his name? OMG!!!
      • Giganta and Grodd once created an android version of Gleek that shot disintegrating laser from its eyes to destroy the Superfriends. It had practically the same results of the "Super Friends: Rest in Peace" plot.
    • Lex Luthor actually had a good answer for this in World's Greatest Superfriends episode "Lex Luthor Strikes Back". Had Luthor just shot the heroes he caught in his traps, they'd not be able to save him from the villains that double-crossed him in that episode. In fact, it was Luthor who saved them from his own death traps.
    • Luthor would need help again in Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show episode "No Honor Among Thieves", when Darkseid double-crossed him (after Luthor tried to double-cross Darkseid, mind you)
  • Wonder Twin Powers, Name the Trope!
  • You Meddling Kids: 1973-74 Superfriends episode "The Balloon People". After Noah Tall is captured by Superman he says "I could have gotten away with it if it weren't for you, Superman."
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