Regarded as one of the greatest television shows of all time. Batman: The Animated Series, has become iconic and often used in the landscape of the Batman mythology. We will be exploring ten of the best episodes from this incredible series, looking at both Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. Taking a look at some of the stories and moments that humanized Batman, as well as his villains. The episodes that taught us something new about these inventive characters as well as suck us in with these compelling stories. This show will go down in history as one of the best, and with these entries on our list we hope to show you why it has become so loved by fans and non-fans to The Dark Knight.
Also Read: Top 10 DC Animated Series – Ranked
Batman: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 46 – Almost Got ‘Im
Hiding from the GCPD and Batman, five of Gothams dangerous villains play a game of cards while they debate over which of them have come the closest to defeating Batman. While Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and Killer Croc all have a unique style and different methods to trying to bring down the Bat. What makes this episode so memorable isn’t just the stories the villains tell and how close they might think they are to stopping Batman. But the way in which the episode concludes with its intertwining conclusion and its reveal at the end that makes you have to re-watch it immediately after it ends. Although there isn’t much to say about this episode, it just happens to be one of the most entertaining and enjoyable to watch.
The New Batman Adventures Season 1, Episode 24 – Mad Love
One of the best things to come out of this series, was the creation of Harley Quinn. Although this episode wasn’t her first appearance in the show, it was the one that told the origin of Dr. Harleen Quinzels transformation in the villain Harley Quinn. Dr. Quinzels fascination for the criminally insane gets her hired on as a therapist at Arkham Asylum with her first patient being their most high profile, The Joker. As Harleen starts to spend more and more time with the Joker, she quickly begins to sympathize and fall in love with her patient. Not only does this episode explore the origins of Quinn, but it also explores the dynamic between Harley Quinn and her Mista J. Showing us just how crazed and obsessed Joker is with Batman and how he wouldn’t let anyone get in his way of defeating him, not even the woman he claims to love.
Batman: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 14 – Heart of Ice
Mr. Freeze was originally introduced as Mr. Zero in February 1959 Batman #121, but it was this episode that reinvented the character into Victor Fries. A cryogenics scientist that is involved in an accident, forcing him to live in only extreme cold temperatures. He sets out on a mission to steal funds and resources to continue his cryogenic research, in an effort to save his dying wife. This episode has become a fan favorite not just because of the reinvention of Mr. Freeze, but also as one of the first that made us really sympathize with the antagonist, asking us the question of how far we would go to save the ones we love. Which has continued to be spun off in future Batman stories that involved Mr. Freeze and Nora Fries, making him a much more understood villain that comes off more as a desperate man who is trying to save a life.
The New Batman Adventures Season 1, Episode 11 – Over the Edge
In a twist of an episode, this one brought the idea to viewers of what would happen if things ended up going wrong for Batman? The episode begins with the GCPD breaking into the Batcave and attempting to apprehend Batman and Robin. When they manage to escape and flee to a secure location as they try to plan their next move. Batman starts to recount the encounter that led to their current situation. After an altercation with Scarecrow, Batgirl is knocked off the top of a building and plummets onto the hood of her father’s police car. Barbra pleads for her father, as he removes her mask and discovers his daughter is Batgirl and sends Gordon on a manhunt for Batman. Without giving away too much from this intense episode, the dark content and despair in it was one of the many that showed us it was intending to be a kid’s show
Batman: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 32, 33 – Robins Reckoning
The first on screen depiction of Dick Graysons origin. This also marked the only episode in the series to win a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less). After Batman discovers an old enemy has resurfaced in Gotham, he forces Robin to stay behind while he investigates. However, when Robin finds out that Batman is hunting down is Tonny Zucco who is responsible for the death of Dick Graysons Parents. Robin sets out to also hunt Zucco and finally avenge his parent’s death. This was such a pivotal story to the realm of Batman and the growth of Dick Graysons progression into Nightwing. In the end, it ended up teaching us that the reason Batman set out to stop Zucco on his own was so he would be brought to justice and Dick wouldn’t have the peace of mind Bruce always wanted. In the hopes Dick never becomes like Batman.
The New Batman Adventures Season 1, Episode 19 – Legends of the Dark Knight
Rather than your normal episode, this one changes things up and acts more as a tribute to The Caped Crusader. As three kids tell their interpretations of Batman and what they have seen and heard from the legend. The first story told is done the style of the fifties and sixties of Batmans early years, with bright colors and campy dialogue as it was during Dick Sprangs era of Batman. As Batman and Robin take on the Joker in a massive music shop and featured plenty of POW’s, BAM’s and “Old Chums” to capture that time of Batman and Robin. The second story was derived from Frank Millers The Dark Knight Returns which showed off a hulking and broody Batman, alongside the first female variation of Robin with Carrie Kelly. It followed Batman and his war on the mutants and their leader, as Batman and Robin plow through the mutant followers and Batman faces off the leader to perform a “surgical procedure”. Collimating in the three kids meeting the real Batman and his battle against Firefly, which is also taken from a seventies comic of the same name by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams.
Batman: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 22 – Jokers Favor
Probably one of the most terrifying episodes, this one became memorable from its point of view of an average person when dealing with the Joker. When Charles Collins makes the mistake of having some road rage against the Clown Prince of Crime and ends up being forced into any villainous deed the Joker wishes. Years later, Collins times comes and the Joker comes to recruit him for his next crime. Not only was the story telling of this so brilliant with the opposite point of view from a Gothamite taking on the Joker. But it really came off as more of an adult episode, as it deals with an ordinary man trying to protect him and his family as he is being forced to commit crimes for a mad man. In a real world setting, events like the ones that take place in this episode would create some psychological implications. While also showing us just how evil and maniacal the Joker can be.
The New Batman Adventures Season 1, Episode 18 – Old Wounds
When The New Batman Adventures aired one question we had was what happened to Dick Grayson? Majority of this episode takes place in a flashback as Grayson (Now Nightwing) explains to Tim Drake (the new Robin) what happened between him and his mentor. The Joker is once again up to his criminal ways, but recruits someone new to his crew to participate in an effort to provide for his family as they are going through some difficult times. When things go south and Joker gets away, Batman follows the new guy to his home and begins interrogating him in front of his family, when Robin sees this he refuses to participate and leaves. Later, in an act of trust Bruce decides to bring Barbra (Batgirl) into their secret and takes her on a mission that threatens her life. At the same time Dick finds out who she is and how Bruce kept it a secret from him, going against the trust they share. So as Dicks final straw, he sucker punches Batman and leaves. Setting him out on his quest to return as his own hero, Nightwing.
Batman: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 54 – Zatanna
Not only was this episode that gave us out first on screen appearance of Zatanna. It also showed us a unique perspective on Bruce Waynes growth into becoming The Dark Knight. When Bruces old friend Zatanna Zatara appears in Gotham to put on a magic, show she is framed for a crime she didn’t commit. Paring up the World’s Greatest Detective with Zatanna to find out who is framing her. Another aspect to the episode though, is the flashbacks of this episode. As it shows a young Bruce Wayne on his journey to learn the skills to become Batman, as he takes lessons on becoming an escape artist from Zatannas father John Zatara. Also showing the bloom of Zatannas fall for Bruce, even though he has other agendas he wishes to fufill. This episode sticks out as a memorable one simply for those scenes alone, humanizing him and showing us something about Batman that we might have ever even thought about in his arsenal of knowledge.
Batman: The Animated Series Season 1, Episode 49 – I Am the Night
An often reoccurring topic within this series, is the way Batman: The Animated Series humanizes Bruce Wayne and Batman and turn him into a sympathetic and understood character. This episode shows us a tired and beaten Batman, after spending night after night of locking up criminals just for them to break out again and commit another crime. One night, after a Batman fails to arrive at an incident that puts his friend Commissioner Gordon in the hospital. Batman really starts to question his methods and this crusade he has started. Putting our hero in a moral dilemma that questions not only Batmans view on himself, but our own as viewers. Never has another episode made us understand Batman so much and the struggles he deals with as a hero, the mental and emotional toll this has on him. Its episodes like this one that has made this show one of the best ever made.
They say that your Batman will always be the one you grew up watching as a kid, the one you saw for the first time. Thankfully, I was woken up every Saturday morning by my father so we could witness this amazing show unfold together. Making Kevin Conroy my Batman, among the many others fans who also got up at the same time to enjoy the same experience. But that is simply just one the best things about Batman.