Best Batman: The Animated Series Episodes
In honor of the series 26th anniversary, upcoming Blu-ray release, and HD streaming debut on DC Universe, here are our picks for the best Batman episodes ever!
Honorable Mention: On Leather Wings
The episode that began this series with a bang is On Leather Wings. In the episode, Batman must face off against a terrifying creature known as Man-Bat who the police think is The Dark Knight himself, so in order to clear his name, Batman must figure out who Man-Bat is and how to help him. It's a great episode which set the tone for the series as a noir-esque, detective-driven show.
10. Beware the Grey Ghost
In this throwback episode, former live-action TV Batman star Adam West returns to the DC Comics mythos as a new character called Simon Trent, an actor best known for playing the role of The Grey Ghost, who is helping Batman thwart a series of crimes related to his old television series which inspired Bruce Wayne to become Batman. Beware the Grey Ghost is a fun episode with excellent voice acting and gorgeous animation. This one also showed fans that the series could comment on real-life events in a smart way.
9. The Demon's Quest
Introducing Ra's al Ghul to the world, The Demon's Quest brought a lesser known villain to vibrant life in this two-parter. When his daughter and heir Talia is kidnapped, Ra's enlists the help of Batman by capturing his ward Robin and the two form an uneasy truce. It's got an epic Bond-like bad guy plot, an intense sword duel, and remains one of the best episodes of the series.
8. Robin's Reckoning
With Robin's Reckoning the series creators brought Batman's sidekick to the forefront revealing his origins and how he and his mentor and father figure are growing further apart. It's an emotional episode and the writers and animators do a superb job depicting the action and dialogue which is delivered with fervor by the voice cast. This is one of the most compelling storylines that has Robin desperately searching for his parent's murderer.
7. Mad Love
Telling one of the best villain stories of the series, Mad Love has Harley Quinn reflecting on the beginning of her relationship with The Joker. Meanwhile, the present story finds Quinn seeking to eliminate Batman who seems to be the only one who can keep The Joker's attention away from her. It's got great dialogue and some surprisingly emotional moments which focus on the most complex relationship in the series.
Focusing on district attorney Harvey Dent, Two-Face showcases the shocking origins of one of Batman's best friends who becomes one of his greatest foes. A story of revenge and betrayal, this episode has Dent tracking down a mobster in a showdown that leaves him horribly scarred, leading him to seek deadly vengeance which must be stopped by Batman. This was one of the first to dive deep into the psychology of The Dark Knight's most conflicted villain.
5. Heart of Ice
Another of the most complicated villains in Batman's rogue gallery is Mr. Freeze who is highlighted here in Heart of Ice. This episode completely overhauled Victor Fries' origin story which has him working tirelessly to save his wife's life after she contracted an incurable disease. You can see Bruce Timm and Paul Dini shining through this episode with it's cinematic look and Emmy-winning writing.
4. Almost Got 'Im
Almost Got 'Im is one of the most unique episodes of the series as it features five of the series' villains discussing how each of them nearly eliminated The Batman. As if that weren't enough, the big plot twist at the end makes the whole thing that much better. This is a brilliantly scripted episode with the voice talent at the top of their game.
3. The Man Who Killed Batman
When a small time gangster seemingly accidentally kills Batman, he's wanted by every gang and super-villain in the city. The Man Who Killed Batman has each and every member of Gotham City mourning The Caped Crusader in their own ways showing us what an important figure he is in each of their lives, even his arch-nemesis The Joker. It's a nice, reflective episode that packs an emotional punch while somehow remaining one of the funniest of the series.
2. I Am The Night
An extremely powerful and important episode, I Am The Night finds Bruce Wayne placing flowers in Crime Ally on the spot where his parents were killed. Meanwhile, Commissioner Jim Gordon and the GCPD are caught in a gunfight with mobsters which leaves the Commissioner severely wounded. Batman blames himself for not being there and seriously considers giving up on crime fighting. It's a moving episode that features some of Kevin Conroy's best work in the role of Batman and shows the audience there are real stakes in this show.
1. Perchance to Dream
The best episode of Batman: The Animated Series is Perchance to Dream. This episode has Bruce Wayne waking up in a different world in which his parents are alive, he's engaged to Selina Kyle, and he isn't Batman but someone else is. It's the It's a Wonderful life of Batman stories putting Bruce on a poignant journey of self-discovery. Kevin Conroy delivers a tour de force performance here alongside Adrienne Barbeau as Selina and Roddy McDowall as Mad Hatter. The animation is beautiful, the music is haunting, and the conclusion is filled with pathos.