The Super Friends (JLA)

Super Friends is an American animated television series about a team of superheroes, which ran from 1973 to 1986 on ABC as part of its Saturday morning cartoon lineup. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera and was based on the Justice League of America and associated comic book characters published by DC Comics.

The name of the program, and the JLA members featured with the Super Friends, have been variously represented (such as Super Friends and Challenge of the Super Friends for example) at different points in its broadcast history. There were a total of 109 episodes.

Series Titles Edit

Over the years, the show existed under several titles:

Super Friends TV Series 1973-1974 Edit

Super Friends first aired on ABC on , featuring well known DC characters Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. Superman, Batman & Robin and Aquaman had each previously appeared in their own animated series produced by Filmation, and voice talent from these prior programs was brought over to work on the new show. Shortly before the Super Friends series was developed, Superman and Wonder Woman also guest-starred in two episodes of The Brady Kids, while Batman and Robin appeared in two episodes of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.

In addition to the superheroes, a trio of sidekicks was introduced, each of whom were new characters not drawn from the comic books: Wendy (voiced by Sherri Alberoni), Marvin White (voiced by Frank Welker), and Wonderdog (also voiced by Frank Welker), none of whom had any special abilities (save the dog’s unexplained ability to reason and “talk”). Inspired by the Scooby-Doo gang, the trio — or at least its human members — were depicted as detectives and/or superheroes in training.

Each episode would begin with the heroes responding to an emergency detected by the massive TroubAlert computer that was situated within the Hall of Justice which served as the headquarters of the team. Colonel Wilcox, a U.S. Army official, was a recurring character who would work as a government liaison to the Super Friends during emergencies.

As such conflicts are often ultimately resolved with the antagonists persuaded to adapt more reasonable methods to achieve their aims with the assistance of the heroes. Natural disasters triggered by human (or alien) activity were often shown, and environmental themes featured strongly in the program.

Some other DC Comics superheroes were featured as guest stars during this season including the Flash, Plastic Man, and Green Arrow.

This first run of Super Friends, consisting of sixteen one hour episodes that were rerun several times, concluded on . At this point, the series was cancelled and did not appear on the fall lineup for 1974.

However, interest in superheroes among ABC's prime time viewers, especially with the success of The Six Million Dollar Man and the live-action Wonder Woman series caused the network to pursue reviving the Super Friends. To begin with, the original sixteen episodes of the series were rebroadcast as a mid-season replacement, running from to . These episodes were edited to half-hour versions. In the meantime, Hanna Barbera began production on a revamped version of the show.

The All-New Super Friends Hour 1977-1978 Edit

The All-New Super Friends Hour featured four animated shorts per program which followed a basic format each week.

The first segment of every show featured two of the heroes (for the purposes of the team-ups in the first and fourth segments, Batman and Robin were considered 'one hero') teaming up in a separate mini-story. The second segment featured a story with the Wonder Twins. The third segment was considered the "primary" adventure of the week which featured the entire Super Friends roster (including the Wonder Twins) in a longer adventure. The fourth and final segment featured a story with one of the primary lineup along with a "special guest star". The fourth segment typically featured a problem that was solved using the guest star's unique abilities.

In addition, between segments there were additional short spots with members of the Super Friends giving basic safety lessons, providing basic first aid advice, demonstrating magic tricks, creating crafts, and presenting a two-part riddle featuring the week's primary plotline.

This is also the first season to feature villains that appeared in the comic books, Black Manta and Gentleman Ghost. Black Manta's costume was not black, and he was only referred to as "Manta," and both he and Gentleman Ghost only appeared in one episode this season.

Challenge of The Super Friends 1978-1979 Edit

First segment Edit

The plots for this series were, at the time of its initial airing, arguably the best effort to portray comic book heroes in animated television shorts. As originally aired, this season consisted of two half-hour segments. The first of these was an adventure with Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Wonder Twins, similar to those that had aired the previous season in The All-New Super Friends Hour. Thanks to these episodes being shown using the opening credits of the All-New Super Friends Hour in syndication, the second segment along being used with the Challenge of Super Friends opening, and confused references to the show it is often mistakenly believed that the first and second segments were two separate shows.

Second segment Edit

The second segment of this season featured the Legion of Doom, a team of thirteen recurring foes, the Super Friends' worst enemies. Every episode would feature battles between the thirteen supervillains of the Legion of Doom and the eleven superheroes of the Justice League of America. The Legion of Doom dwelled in a murky swamp and launched their attacks for global conquest from a sinister looking, swamp-based, mechanical, flying headquarters, called the Hall of Doom (which also resembled Darth Vader's helmet) as a suitable contrast with the Super Friends' gleaming Hall of Justice.

The World's Greatest Super Friends 1979-1980 Edit

This particular incarnation of Super Friends relied heavily on folklore and classic fairy tales for plots. One episode in particular, "The Lord of Middle Earth", was inspired by the Lord of the Rings novels, in which the team journeys to Middle Earth to save the inhabitants from an evil wizard.

Super Friends 1980-1982 Edit

Once again renamed, this time simply reverting back to Super Friends in 1980, the series changed formats again, abandoning the production of half hour episodes and producing seven minute shorts. Each episode of Super Friends would feature a rerun from one of the previous six years along with three of these new shorts. These new adventures featured appearances by the core group of the five classic Super Friends along with Zan, Jayna & Gleek. There were also guest appearances from members previously depicted in Challenge of the Super Friends as well as the original Hanna-Barbera created hero El Dorado, who was added to the show to add more cultural diversity to the Super Friends.

This would prove to be one of the more lasting incarnations of the series, with this format being used for the next three years.

The Best of The Super Friends (reruns) 1982-1983 Edit

With Super Friends, the series abandoned the production of half hour episodes (which was the case for the previous two Super Friends series), in favor of the production of seven-minute shorts. Each episode of Super Friends would feature a rerun from one of the previous six years along with three of these new shorts. To clarify, the timeslot during the first season ran for a full hour, combining a new 30-minute episode of this run (three new stories) with 30-minute reruns. Meanwhile, the second season from 19811982 was a shorter season due to a writers' strike.

Cancellation & the "lost" episodes 1983-1984 Edit

By this point, Hanna-Barbera had created a syndication package of the earlier Super Friends series, and these were picked up by various stations across the United States and were typically broadcast on weekday afternoons. Not wishing to compete with the syndication programming, ABC dropped the series from the 1983–1984 Saturday morning television line-up, and for the second time in its run, Super Friends was cancelled.

However, during this period of time Hanna-Barbera continued to produce new episodes of the Super Friends. In total, 24 of the so-called "Lost Episodes" were animated but not aired in the United States that season. The series did appear in Australia uninterrupted. Three of these episodes were aired when Super Friends returned to Saturday morning ABC television the following year. The remainder of the episodes finally aired in syndication a year later as part of the Superman/Batman Adventures show.

Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show 1984-1985 Edit

Super Friends returned to ABC on Saturday September 8, 1984 with a new thirty minute program that typically featured two 11-minute stories per episode. This incarnation featured Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and the Wonder Twins and Gleek, this time teamed up with Firestorm (Ronald Raymond). In addition to this core group, episodes during this season also featured some cameos by old and new Super Friends. The program lasted one season until August 31, 1985. This series feaured various villains from the comic books such as Brainiac, Lex Luthor, Mirror Master and Mr Mxyzptlk, as well as Darkseid and his henchmen from Apokolips, all made appearances.

This season, and the one to follow, featured the “Super Powers” tag which was part of a marketing tie-in with a toyline of the same name produced by Kenner.

The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians Edit

In the fall of 1985, the next version of Hanna-Barbera's depiction of the DC Comics heroes began, although it no longer carried the 'Super Friends name. This series returned to a conventional line-up for the team, with a focus on the teen members Cyborg and Firestorm. Once again headquartered at the Hall of Justice in Metropolis, the heroes battled such familiar foes as Lex Luthor and Scarecrow, as well as the recurring villain Darkseid. It also contained the first and only appearances by The Joker and The Penguin.

The tone of the Galactic Guardians incarnation was notably more serious than Super Friends had been in the past. Additionally, the Galactic Guardians series featured the first televised depiction of Batman's origin in the episode “The Fear”.

The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians lasted one season, and was ultimately canceled. The final new episode aired was The Death of Superman. which originally aired on . This third cancellation would prove to be the final one and Galactic Guardians marked the end of Hanna-Barbera's 13-year run of the series when it last aired on .

In syndication, this series is listed under the Super Friends name, as most people consider it part of the Super Friends run, anyway.

Members of The Super Friends Edit

The Justice League of America

The core group of five heroes made up the "Super Friends":

Additional Justice League members included:

DC Comics characters where were not Justice League members in comics (at the time), only on the series:

Justice League members created for the series:

One-shot Justice League appearances were made by:

The teen sidekicks and their pets:

In the Super Friends comic and merchandising related to the series:

Refrences to the Justice League of America name Edit

Beginning with the original Super Friends season, the opening narration describes the team's headquarters as "the great hall of the Justice League." The opening credits of Challenge of the Super Friends names the Super Friends as the Justice League of America. In addition to the appearance of a JLA emblem on a communicator and a reference to a mission to repair the Justice League satellite, the Super Friends are often linked with the JLA. The Justice League satellite under repair is clearly the same design as the Justice League Satellite that appeared in the comics at the time, but was shown to be substantially smaller than its comic book counterpart.

DC Animated Universe (DCAU) Edit

Justice League Edit

In "Secret Origins, Part 3", when Superman proposes the idea of a team, Flash responds “What, you mean like a bunch of...super friends?”

In "Injustice For All", during a battle in a museum, a statue of the Wonder Twins can be seen in the background.

Justice League Unlimited Edit

"Ultimatum", a first season episode of the Cartoon Network television series, featured the Ultimen, a group of superheroes that are a pastiche of heroes unique to the Super Friends. The members were Long Shadow (based on Apache Chief), Wind Dragon (Samurai), Juice (Black Vulcan), Downpour (Zan of the Wonder Twins), and Shifter (Jayna of the Wonder Twins). The headquarters of the Ultimen, although on top of a skyscraper, resembled the Super Friends’ Hall of Justice. Of note also is that the JLU heroes featured in this episode was the line up of the original Super Friends, save for Robin (due to the concurrent Teen Titans and The Batman cartoon series, DC and Warner Bros. mandated that no Bat-characters other than Batman himself could be used in JLU) The Ultimen also used the wholesome (or corny) language of the Super Friends and the 1960s Batman series, referring to the Justice League as "old chum" and giving heavy-handed monologues on civic responsibility.

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