For an entire generation of fans, the DC Animated Universe was their first introduction to the world of DC Comics. Starting in 1992 with Batman: The Animated Series and continuing in Superman: The Animated Series, the DCAU would eventually culminate in Justice League. Subsequently, Justice League would evolve into Justice League Unlimited, which saw the team of seven grow exponentially. Across three seasons, JLU introduced viewers to an assortment of heroes and villains, allowing plenty of smaller, lesser known characters to step into the spotlight. But with 52 episodes of Justice League and 39 episodes of Justice League Unlimited, and plenty of characters cropping up throughout them, not every character got the opportunity to make a huge impact.
From obscure superheroes, to cult favorites, the Justice League cartoons saw plenty of characters pop up in smaller roles. While some of these characters became reoccurring, many simply faded into the backgrounds, or, even worse, just never showed up again. So whether you consider yourself a hardcore DCAU fan, or you simply have fond memories of watching Justice League Unlimited when it debuted on Toonami back in 2004, we’re willing to bet that you’ve completely forgotten about these characters!
In the DC Universe, there are few that can match Oliver Queen arrow-for-arrow quite like the villainous Merlyn. Created as a trick-shot-turned-supervillain, Merlyn would evolve over time into a vengeance-driven assassin, willing to do whatever it takes to enact revenge on Green Arrow. Despite his prominence in the Emerald Archer’s rogues gallery, Merlyn only got a glorified background role in Justice League Unlimited.
Appearing in the episodes “Dead Reckoning,” “The Great Brain Robbery,” and “Alive!,” Merlyn served as member of Gorilla Grodd’s Legion of Doom, and remained a member when Lex Luthor assumed control of the team. And… that’s about it. Merlyn never got the chance the show off his prowess with a bow, and hardly made an impact on the show, making this easily missed background character understandably forgettable.
Hourman! With the amazing power of having superpowers for an hour! Sure, Hourman’s drug-induced power set may seem silly nowadays, but this cult favorite superhero has been fighting the good fight since 1940. As one of the founding members of the JSA, Hourman is considered an elder statesmen among the hero crowd, and Rex Tyler, the OG Hourman, has even passed on the mantel to his son Rick and, later still, an android from the future. Despite his storied career in superheroics, Hourman only managed to net blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos in Justice League Unlimited.
Appearing in eight episodes of Justice League Unlimited, Hourman is shown to be a member of the JLU, but the character is relegated to occupying space in group shots, only getting the spotlight in the second season episode “Panic In The Sky,” in which the hero is shown injecting himself with the strength-enhancing drug Miraclo to aid in the battle. Hourman’s lack of screen time definitely made this hero utterly forgettable.
13. CLOCK KING
For a villain whose whole thing is “a big stickler for punctuality,” the Clock King has had a long and illustrious career, serving as a member of the Injustice League, trading blows with the likes of Batman and Green Arrow, and even heading an insidious incarnation of the Teen Titans dubbed the Terror Titans. With his keen, time-obsessed mind, the Clock King has menaced the heroes of the DC Universe for more than 50 years. And we bet you totally forgot he appeared in Justice League Unlimited.
Clock King appeared in only one episode of JLU, entitled “Task Force X,” in which he is conscripted into the titular task force. Clock King serves as the team’s controller, guiding the ragtag band of villains as they break into the JLA’s Watchtower. Clock King would survive the experience and remain a member of Task Force X, but this cult classic character has yet to pop back up in a Justice League cartoon.
12. B’WANA BEAST
The DC Universe is home to plenty of oddball superheroes, but they don’t come much oddball…er than B’wana Beast. This cheetah-print adorned, loincloth-clad hero of the jungle uses his powers of animal communication and enhanced senses to protect the wilds of Africa. Thanks to his bizarre appearance, BB has had a healthy career, teaming up with Animal Man and even assisting the Justice League. Suiting his weirdo career, B’wana Beast popped up in one of the strangest episodes of Justice League Unlimited.
While the Beast made several cameo appearances throughout JLU, he took center stage in “This Little Piggy,” in which Wonder Woman is magically turned into a pig by Circe, forcing Batman to enlist B’wana to use his unique powers to track the Wonder Pig. Aside from this one starring role, he served as a perennial background character, making it easy to forget the hero was in a Justice League cartoon.
11. QUEEN BEE
As the bloodthirsty ruler of a bee-like alien species devoted entirely to spreading throughout the galaxy and snuffing out all opposing lifeforms, Zazzala, aka Queen Bee, is no pushover. With her mind controlling “pollen” and venomous darts, Queen Bee has crossed paths with the JLA numerous times, but the seductive villainess always feels the sting of justice, forcing her to buzz off. Despite her regal title, Queen Bee was relegated to background player when she appeared on Justice League Unlimited.
Queen Bee appeared as a member of the insidious Legion of Doom, occasionally pitching in during fights against the Justice League, but primarily serving as a space filler during group shots of the villainous team. Queen Bee was featured in five total episodes, but she never made much of an impact. As such, it’s easy to forget that Queen Bee managed to bumble her way into JLU.
With his iconic gas mask and trench coat combo, the mysterious pulp hero known as Sandman was certainly one of the most striking members of the Justice Society of America. But even an accomplished crime fighter like Wesley Dodds can’t fight the good fight forever, and the Sandman title was passed to Sandy Hawkins, who had served as Dodds’ sidekick under the name “Sandy The Golden Boy.” Sandy would drop “The Golden Boy” and become “Sand,” the next generation of sleep gas gun-toting vigilante.
While the OG Sandman accomplished a lot, Sand managed to do what Sandman never could: make it into Justice League Unlimited. Sand appeared as a member of the JLU in six episodes, but the character never contributed much. As a result, it’s easy to forget that Sand even popped up alongside Batman and Wonder Woman. But hey, at least his glorified cameos got him an action figure in the JLU line!
The hero known as Deadman definitely got a bum deal when it came to powers: as a ghost, Deadman can possess others, but in his standard spectral form, he can’t be seen or heard. Despite his unique situation, Deadman remains sardonic and sociable, netting the character a legion of fans since debuting in 1967. Despite this cult fame, Deadman only appeared in a single Justice League Unlimited.
In “Dead Reckoning,” Deadman enlists the League to assist him in recovering the mystical Heart of Nanda Partbat, which leads to the haunted hero and the JLU fighting the Legion of Doom in Gorilla City for the fate of the world. Ultimately, the Heart is recovered, the world is saved, but Deadman is forced to continue his quest to balance the scales of karma through helping others. Deadman never appeared in JLU again, but with a recent starring role in Justice League Dark, Deadman is far from forgotten these days.
Before the popular Flash TV show came along and endeared viewers to Cisco Ramon, the hero known as Vibe primarily lingered in obscurity, serving as a dependable D-Grade hero for DC. But this former Justice League Detroit member managed to do something that even bigger, more popular DC heroes couldn’t pull off: appear in a whopping ten Justice League Unlimited episodes.
As a member of the JLU, Vibe used his vibrational wave generation powers to aid the team on several instances, popping up in fights against the dread sorcerer Mordru and the alien construct known as the Dark Heart. Vibe could also be seen as a background extra in several episodes, and became such a staple on the show that he was given a figure in the Justice League Unlimited toy line. But even still, it would be easy to forget that Vibe was even in the show in the first place.
The demon known as Eclipso dwells in the Heart of Darkness crystal, lying in wait, always ready to possess whatever individual is unlucky enough to come into contact with the evil crystal. As a result, since debuting in 1963, plenty of villains, and even some heroes, have claimed the Eclipso title. Eclipso even managed to pop up in an episode of Justice League, but since he is never explicitly named, you would be forgiven for forgetting about him.
In the aptly named episode “Heart Of Darkness,” Army General McCormick falls under the influence of the Heart of Darkness, hijacks weapons, and dresses in the classic Eclipso garb to draw out the Justice League. In the ensuing fight, the General is defeated, and McCormick is released from the crystal’s influence. The entity is never referred to as “Eclipso,” so even hardcore fans might forget about this villains one and only Justice League cartoon appearance.
While plenty of DC heroes created in the ’90s have slipped into obscurity, the Grant Morrison-created Aztek has managed to remain a cult favorite. Billed as “The Ultimate Man,” Aztek seemed poised to become a breakout character for DC, only for the hero to die in the World War III story arc. But even death couldn’t stop Aztek from making several appearances on Justice League Unlimited.
Appearing primarily in non-speaking roles through 10 episodes, Aztek would briefly share the spotlight with Superman when the Man of Steel asked Aztek to use his suit’s tech to conduct a scan in search of a recently escaped from prison Lex Luthor. As a glorified extra, Aztek made little impact on the stories of JLU, but fans of the character were happy to see the hero pop up. With a new Aztek recently making her debut in Justice League of America #20, it’s the perfect time to revisit Aztek’s forgettable appearances in JLU.
Psycho-Pirate may be a strong contender for the title of “worst villain name ever,” but this red-and-black clad baddie has been menacing heroes with his emotion controlling Medusa Mask since 1944. But despite his storied career in criminal capers, Psycho-Pirate barely managed to make more than a glorified cameo in Justice League Unlimited.
When Gorilla Grodd formed the Legion of Doom, the villainous team was practically overflowing with baddies, with Psycho-Pirate serving as a minor member of the team. Psycho-Pirate made only two appearances on the show, making little impact in either. While Psycho-Pirate was utilized more in the tie-in Justice League Unlimited comic, even getting the opportunity to menace the JLU in a starring role in Justice League Unlimted#20, ol’ PP’s TV appearances were definitely forgettable.
4. CAPTAIN BOOMERANG
Long before he made his big screen debut in the critically reviled Suicide Squad, Captain Boomerang was just another C-Grade DC villain, popping up every now and again to menace the DC heroes with his grab bag of deadly boomerangs. But despite his ridiculous gimmick, Captain Boomerang has become a certified fan favorite, popping up in hundreds of comic books, films, and even making his animated TV debut in Justice League Unlimited.
The Captain debuted in the episode “Task Force X,” in which the miserly villain opted to join the titular task force, aiding the team with his boomerangs, but almost ruining the team’s plan after nearly setting off a metal detector after refusing to part with his pocket change. Boomerang would make a bit appearance in the episode “Flash and Substance,” and then never appeared on JLU again, making it easy to forget this ridiculous villain.
The peppy Stargirl may not be the first hero to wield the Cosmic Staff, but she’s certainly one of the most beloved. Debuting in 1999, Courtney Whitmore quickly became a fan favorite, becoming one of the youngest members of the Justice Society of America and, later on, joining the prestigious Justice League of America. Stargirl’s popularity likely helped the character end up on Justice League Unlimited, but you would be forgiven for forgetting this perennial background character was even there in the first place.
Stargirl appeared in a whopping 17 episodes of JLU, primarily battling in the background alongside her mech-suit wearing stepfather. S.T.R.I.P.E. Stargirl’s claim to fame on the show was butting heads with Supergirl and then being nearly killed by the Shaggy Man, only to once again disappear into the background. For such a popular character, Stargirl’s run on JLU was certainly forgettable.
2. KYLE RAYNER
Thanks to the popular Justice League cartoons, an entire generation of viewers were introduced to the Green Lantern Jon Stewart. But Stewart was far from the only fan favorite Lantern to appear in the DCAU; in actuality, the ’90s Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, made two appearances throughout the Justice League cartoons, but they are easily forgotten.
Rayner first appeared in Superman: The Animated Series, later reappearing in a cameo in the Justice League episode “Hereafter, Part 1.” Rayner would take on a bigger role in the Justice League Unlimited episode “The Return,” in which the Lantern, along with other members of the Green Lanter Corps, aided the JLU in a fight against the android Amazo. While Rayner was shown as an important member of the Lanterns, he never appeared on the show again after this episode. This popular Lantern certainly had some forgettable Justice League cartoon appearances.
1. CRIMSON AVENGER
There are obscure characters, and then there is the Crimson Avenger. The red trench coat clad vigilante is considered DC’s first superhero, making his first appearance in October of 1938. Despite this important distinction, the Crimson Avenger remains a largely forgotten character. So when you mix an ultra-obscure character with some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos, you have one easily forgotten Justice League Unlimited character.
The Avenger appeared in seven episodes of JLU as a member of the team, popping up to aid in the search for pig Wonder Woman and fighting alongside his teammates in the battle against the Shaggy Man. Despite his repeated appearances on the show, the Crimson Avenger never spoke, serving primarily as a background character. A non-speaking side character based on an obscure hero from the ’30s? The Crimson Avenger definitely takes the cake when it comes to forgettable Justice League cartoon characters.
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