The Superhero Issue

All 109 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, ranked from worst to best

Even the best Batman show of all time gets it wrong some of the time.

Since its premiere in September 1992, Batman: The Animated Series has been hailed as one of the best, if not the best, interpretations of the Dark Knight.

What makes Batman: The Animated Series so great? Co-creators Bruce Timm and Eric Radmoski led an array of artists to reimagine Batman in an Art Deco-inspired Gotham City. The noir stories told by writers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett didn’t talk down to young fans munching on sugary cereals. And its legacy, including the creation of enduring characters like Harley Quinn, forever changed the DC multiverse. The list is as long as the Joker’s rap sheet.

Welcome to the Inverse Superhero Issue! Read more here.

All of this to say that with such outstanding quality, ranking all 109 episodes of BTAS and its continuation The New Batman Adventures is quite the challenge, but when Inverse offered me the opportunity, I couldn’t say no. You might be asking, “Why this guy? What does he know?” Rest assured, my knowledge of Batman runs deep. I run the @SaturdayMorningBatman account on Instagram that dives into episodes and movies of Batman in animation, and I’ve been reading the comics since the ‘90s.

So, as someone who’s spent at least an hour every day thinking about Batman and his world for the past 20-something years, here’s my meticulously calibrated (but totally subjective) ranking of every single episode. Let’s get started.

109. “The Underdwellers”

While there is merit in every BTAS episode, there are a few that definitely fall short, and the worst offender is “The Underdwellers.” An episode that finds Batman following up on what he refers to as a “leprechaun crimewave” (no joke) turns out to be a gang of sewer children led by a one-eyed man called the Sewer King. This original villain leaves a lot to be desired, and the preachy message feels over the top and frankly a little weird for a show targeted at children. But if you like Batman wrestling alligators, you’ll find something to love. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 6)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Tom Ruegger
  • Animation by Studio Junio
DC Entertainment

108. “The Forgotten”

True to its name, “The Forgotten” is an episode most people forget when thinking of the BTAS greats. The episode finds another original villain named Biggis kidnapping homeless people and forcing them into labor. While investigating these disappearances, an undercover Bruce is knocked on the head and forgets who he is. The episode struggles as it runs a full 17 minutes with no recognizable characters, but it does have its moments, such as Alfred taking the Batwing for a spin. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 8)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Jules Dennis, Richard Mueller, and Sean Catherine Derek
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation

107. “Critters”

When it comes to weird episodes, they don’t get much stranger than “Critters.” An original villain named Farmer Brown grows unusually large animals to get revenge on a Gotham that rejected his experiments. While the plot is weird, director Dan Riba’s use of shadows makes for some creepy scenes, including a creepy talking goat that will scare children and adults. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 16)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Joe R. Lansdale
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

106. “The Demon Within”

When BTAS started, the writing staff had a rule: no magic. But little-by-little that rule disappeared, and by the time we get to “The Demon Within,” Batman is literally turning into a tree. With a cast of characters including Klarion the witch boy, Etrigan the demon, and Jason Blood, this episode feels less like the Dark Knight and more like a knight in King Arthur’s castle. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 10)

  • Directed by Atsuko Tanaka
  • Written by Stan Berkowitz
  • Animation by TMS-Kyokuichi

105. “I've Got Batman in My Basement”

Viewed by many as the worst episode, “I’ve got Batman in my Basement” may not be as bad as you remember, but it’s still not very good. The episode's biggest offense isn’t the goofy kids creating Home Alone-type traps to stop Penguin, it’s that the writers are talking down to kids. BTAS is known for its adult approach to kid’s animation and that is sadly absent here. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 13)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Sam Graham & Chris Hubbell
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation

104. “Avatar”

“Avatar” is Batman’s attempt at Indiana Jones, and while it doesn’t completely miss the mark, the episode definitely falls quite short of the first appearance of Ra’s Al Ghul. It’s not without its merits though, including a spooky beautiful woman revealed as a monster twist and a music-driven 5-minute backstory that would never happen today. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 4)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Michael Reaves
  • Animation by Studio Junio

103. “Tyger, Tyger”

One's love of “Tyger, Tyger” depends on how one prefers Batman. If you are a fan of Golden Age Batman, who often went up against the supernatural, this might be the episode for you. But if you tend to like your Batman knee-deep in gangsters and criminals this one will feel a bit off. All-in-all, this tribute to the Island of Dr. Moreau and William Blake’s “The Tyger” is fun, but never quite hits the mark. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 42)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Michael Reaves and Randy Rogel
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation
DC Entertainment

102. “Moon of The Wolf”

Comic Book writer Len Wein revisits his original story from Batman #255 about Anthony Romulus, an Olympic athlete who tries to cheat and ends up a werewolf. The episode and the comic are almost identical, with the animated version adding a sick guitar riff that feels markedly different from 99% of BTAS’s soundtrack. Fun fact: The Batman Adventures comic (issue #21) is a sequel to this episode as well as “Tyger, Tyger,” bringing the werewolf, Man-Bat, and Tygrus together. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 43)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast
  • Written by Len Wein
  • Animation by Akom Production

101. “The Cat and the Claw Part II”

The only two-parter to get separated on this list, “The Cat and the Claw pt. 2” falls drastically in quality from the first episode. With part one, there is romance, mystery, and tension as an iconic new threat enters the fray. Part two follows that up by putting the Batman-Catwoman relationship in the backseat to introduce Red Claw who (while supposedly unstoppable) gets knocked out very quickly and does nothing to live up to her reputation. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 16)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast
  • Written by Sean Catherine Derek & Laren Bright
  • Animation by Akom Production

100. “Showdown”

“Showdown” is not a bad episode by any means, it’s just not a Batman episode. With Batman appearing briefly at the beginning and the end, the episode follows the story of Ra’s Al Ghul’s encounter with Jonah Hex. This one ranks high in quality, but low because it feels more like a potential spinoff than anything else. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 13)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Joe R. Lansdale
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation

99. “Animal Act”

Have you ever wondered how Batman would do against a bear? Well, “Animal Act” is the episode for you. Batman, Robin, and Nightwing take on the Mad Hatter, who’s using animals from Dick’s childhood circus to commit crimes. While this one is a bit weird, it does a great job cementing the bond between Bruce and Dick and showing that while they may disagree, they will always have one another’s back. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 17)

  • Directed by Curt Geda
  • Written by Hilary J. Bader
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

98. “The Terrible Trio”

“The Terrible Trio” is by no means a terrible episode (ha!), but the trio does leave a bit to be desired. Taking an idea from Detective Comics #253, Batman goes up against three bored millionaires who take up a life of crime for entertainment. While we get some interesting parallels between these men and Bruce, the stakes don’t feel particularly high and it lacks the character depth we find in other episodes. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 6)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Allan Burnett & Michael Reaves,
  • Animation by Jade Animation

97. “Bane”

“Bane” suffers more from fan let-down than anything else. The Knightfall comic storyline is an epic, year-long extravaganza and in BTAS it doesn’t even get a two-parter. Bane never feels like a credible threat despite his crushing of the Batmobile. It seems Bane should have said, “I will break your heart.” (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 10)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Mitch Brian
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation

96. “Time Out of Joint”

The title “Time out of Joint” comes from a line uttered by Hamlet to Horatio referring to the idea that a supernatural event has altered how Hamlet perceives the universe. This applies nicely to Temple Fugate (aka, the Clock King), who figures out how to alter time and essentially begins perceiving himself above everyone else. The episode isn’t as strong as its predecessor, but still has its moments, including a visually interesting scene when the Batmobile gets locked out of time. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 8)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Alan Burnett & Steve Perry
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation
The Joker.DC Entertainment

95. “The Last Laugh”

As the lowest Joker-centric episode on our list, “The Last Laugh” isn’t bad per se, it just never hits the heights of the coming episodes. The plot finds Joker gassing Gotham on April Fools and robbing the city blind while everyone is distracted. This episode should be noted as the first (and sadly last) appearance of Captain Clown in BTAS lore. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 4)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Carl Swenson
  • Animation by Akom Productions

94. “The Cape & Cowl Conspiracy”

“The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy” is the only episode to feature the Riddler-like villain Josiah Wormwood (aka, the Interrogator). The episode isn’t the gold standard, but it’s fun with some twists and turns that will keep you guessing. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 31)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Elliot S. Maggin
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation

93. “Mean Seasons”

“Mean Seasons” features a gender-swapped Calendar Man called Calendar Girl. Sadly, the story behind this villain, a model who “aged out” of the youth demographic, misses the mark. The story wants to comment on show biz and advertising, but Calendar Girl comes across a bit one-note. Then again, you do get Batman fighting a robot dinosaur, so you don’t go home empty-handed. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 9)

  • Directed by Hiroyuki Aoyama
  • Written by Rich Fogel & Hillary J. Bader
  • Animation by TMS-Kyokuichi

92. “Blind as a Bat”

Another episode by the late, great Len Wein, “Blind as a Bat” finds Batman getting a taste of what it’s like to be Daredevil when he is blinded by an explosion. Using some Wayne Tech technology, Bruce creates a mask that recreates his vision via computer graphics while his eyes heal. The episode is a lot of fun, but it’s odd that Batman essentially cures blindness, but never mentions it to anyone. Share the love, Brucie. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 59)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Len Wein
  • Animation by Studio Junio

91. “Terror in The Sky”

The official follow-up to Man-Bat’s story, “Terror in the Sky” makes the whole “turning into a bat” thing a family affair by transforming Kirk Langstrom’s wife, Francine into the Man-Bat (or Woman-Bat, I suppose). This is a great episode with a fantastic transformation scene in an airplane bathroom — a whole different kind of mile-high club. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 45)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Mark Saraceni
  • Animation by Dong Yang

90. “The Worry Men”

While this may be the lowest-ranked Paul Dini episode, it is by no means a bad one. “The Worry Men” finds Mad Hatter up to some new tricks getting socialite Veronica Vreeland to share tiny “worry men” dolls with her wealthy pals, not knowing the dolls are mind-controlling them into giving away their money. Often overlooked, this episode is definitely one worth checking out. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 65)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

89. “Eternal Youth”

“Eternal Youth” is essentially a horror episode as we find Poison Ivy robbing wealthy Gotham citizens at a fake spa she created and then turning them into trees before they can complain to the Better Business Bureau. The episode also features some funny bits with Alfred and his lady-friend, Maggie. This one proves that Alfred may be one of the best things about BTAS. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 29)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Beth Bornstein
  • Animation by Dong Yang
Alfred hits the open road.DC Entertainment

88. “Prophecy of Doom”

“Prophecy of Doom” finds yet another villain targeting the wealthy of Gotham only to catch Batman’s eye. If these folks knew Bruce Wayne was Batman, I imagine they’d start targeting the middle class more often. Anyway, the villain Nostromos is a small-time crook who makes an excellent foil for Batman in his only appearance on the show. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 19)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Dennis Marks and Sean Catherine Derek
  • Animation by Akom Production

87. “Lock-Up”

“Another villain made possible by a grant from the Wayne Foundation” is one of the single best lines uttered in BTAS and comes from Robin when discussing the new villain Lock-up (a loose cannon former Arkham guard who becomes a dangerous vigilante). The episode poses some very interesting and relevant questions about the issues with our prison system, but falls shy of ever offering answers to the questions it asks. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 17)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Paul Dini, Marty Isenberg, & Robert N. Skir
  • Animation by Dong Yang Animation

86. “Beware the Creeper”

When reporter Jack Ryder gets the same chemical bath once given to the Joker, he transforms into The Creeper, a goofy anti-hero with the hots for Harley Quinn. “Beware the Creeper” is a fun episode where the writers really push the boundaries of a kid’s show with some very funny, albeit very adult humor. In their defense, the jokes flew over my head as a kid! (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 23)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Rich Fogel and Steve Gerber
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

85. “The Lion and the Unicorn”

Red Claw returns for a better episode where she wisely leaves Gotham behind to try her terrorist activities elsewhere. Sadly, for her, she needs a passcode from an old British Secret Service agent named Alfred Pennyworth. Despite being an action-driven episode, it’s the quippy, hilarious Alfred that really makes this one worth revisiting again and again. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 12)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Diane Duane, Peter Morwood, & Steve Perry
  • Animation by Dong Yang

84. “You Scratch My Back”

“You Scratch My Back” is one of the stronger episodes of the re-launched New Batman Adventures, featuring a solo Nightwing who ends up working with Catwoman. It has some great dialogue, nice character development, and a couple of twists and turns that can be pretty surprising in a first viewing. This proves once again that the late writer Hilary J. Bader is an unsung hero of animated Batman. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 5)

  • Directed by Butch Lukic
  • Written by Hilary J. Bader
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

83. “What is Reality?”

“What is Reality” is one of the weaker Riddler episodes, largely because of its VR technology that looks incredibly dated by today’s standards. However, it does have some great moments, including a creepy shot of Riddler after his mind gets trapped in the game — and one of the best title cards of the series. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 48)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast
  • Written by Mary Isenberg & Robert N. Skir
  • Animation by Akom Production
DC Entertainment

82. “Judgement Day”

In “Judgement Day,” Batman hunts a mysterious new anti-hero who is coming after Gotham’s villains like Penguin, Killer Croc, and Two-Face. But all is not as it seems. This is the final episode of the series, but doesn’t feel like a finale. However, it does leave one villain in a very haunting state of mind. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 24)

  • Directed by Curt Geda
  • Written by Rich Fogel & Alan Burnett
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

81. “Batgirl Returns”

The final episode to feature the original BTAS style, “Batgirl Returns” is a whole lot of fun with Batgirl and Catwoman teaming up to stop recurring corporate thug, Roland Daggett. Adding an extra level to this one is the Batgirl theme by music producer Shirley Walker, which is arguably the catchiest rhythm in the series. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 20)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Michael Reaves & Brynne Stephens
  • Animation by Dong Yang

80. “Torch Song”

What works for “Torch Song” is that the writers took a character with a super complicated comic book history and distilled it down to what works best. This episode takes Firefly’s pyromaniac and the special effects, and adds in a genuine emotion of being spurned by his obsession. It works beautifully. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 10)

  • Directed by Curt Geda
  • Written by Rich Fogel
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

79. “Cult of the Cat”

“Cult of the Cat” is one of the ultimate “Golden Age-type” tales in this show. As mentioned above, Golden Age Batman often fought cults and large creatures in spooky old castles. This episode is all that brought to life in a fun story that gives Catwoman a fairly happy ending for her final episode. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 15)

  • Directed by Butch Lukic
  • Written by Paul Dini & Stan Berkowitz
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

78. “Fire from Olympus”

Maxie Zeus is a character created (I believe) to fill the role of Batman ‘66’s King Tut, who was off limits due to the rights of the show. This D-list character should have never received his own episode of BTAS, but it’s a good thing he did because “Fire from Olympus” is a great story that draws comparisons between Zeus and Batman when Zeus’s girlfriend tells the Dark Knight, "He's not living in the real world anymore. Maybe, you can relate to that." Ouch. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 63)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Garfield & Judith Reeves-Stevens
  • Animation by Dong Yang

77. “Cold Comfort”

Freeze never gets a happy ending, and “Cold Comfort” is no exception. Following up on the direct-to-video movie, Subzero, this episode puts Freeze in his most truly criminal role where he seems to cause misery just for the sake of it. However, despite good storytelling and solid writing, Freeze seems a bit off character here, making it the weakest of his appearances. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 3)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Hilary J. Bader
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang
Mr. Freeze.DC Entertainment

76. “Catwalk”

The writers of BTAS seemed to have a hard time with the idea of just Catwoman starring in an episode. She is almost always paired up with someone else (Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Claw, etc.) and this episode is no exception, but it may be her best pairing. Catwoman and Scarface make a great rivalry, and Paul Dini drives some hard wedges between Batman and Catwoman to send her down a much darker path. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 9)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

75. “Christmas With the Joker”

Many Batman fans watch “Christmas with the Joker” every year, yet being only the second episode of the series, there are definitely some bumps in this one. However, with a solid “Joker hijacking the airwaves” story and scene of Batman swinging a bat, there’s plenty to make your Christmas jolly. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 2)

  • Directed by Kent Butterworth
  • Written by Eddie Gorodetsky
  • Animation by Akom Production

74. “Be A Clown”

“Be a Clown” walks a weird line between very unsettling (the way Joker emotionally torments this child he’s unintentionally kidnapped) and very cheesy (there are a lot of bad puns). Mark Hamill does a fantastic job switching between the Joker and Jeko the clown, but ultimately, the writing really pulls you out. Fun fact: this episode is home to the popular “thumbs up Batman” meme that you see online regularly. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 9)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Ted Pedersen & Steve Hayes
  • Animation by Akom Production

73. “The Ultimate Thrill”

When it comes to villains heavy on innuendo, you might think of Catwoman or Harley Quinn, but don’t forget Roxy Rocket from “The Ultimate Thrill.” In what Bruce Timm calls the “most blatantly risqué episode,” we get stunt-obsessed Roxy making some adult references and essentially having an orgasm while battling Batman in the skies. Wowsers, cover your ears, kids! (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 11)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Hilary J. Bader
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

72. “The Mechanic”

“Where does he get all those wonderful toys?” Well according to BTAS, the answer is a man named Earl Cooper in “The Mechanic.” In this fun episode, we learn the origin of the Batmobile while also getting a Batman vs. Penguin story that feels heavily influenced by 1992’s Batman Returns. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 55)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Randy Rogel
  • Animation by Dong Yang

71. “Paging the Crime Doctor”

While the title might date this one slightly, “Paging the Crime Doctor” is still a fantastic episode that explores the dark underbelly of Gotham’s criminal organization. Leading with a brotherly fight between gangster Rupert Thorne and his brother Matthew, this one hits on some heavy emotional strings when Leslie Thompkins gets involved and reveals some history about Bruce’s dad. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 53)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Mike W. Barr & Laren Bright
  • Animation by Dong Yang
DC Entertainment

70. “Night of the Ninja”

When a mysterious ninja from Bruce’s past begins robbing Wayne companies, Batman finds himself doubting if he has what it takes to win. “Night of the Ninja” excels with flashbacks to Bruce’s training and some genuine bonding between Batman and Robin. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 35)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Steve Perry
  • Animation by Dong Yang

69. “The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne”

While “The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne” should have been a two-parter, it still makes for a great episode featuring some twists and turns as well as a great peek into Joker’s voicemail where he says, "Leave your message at the sound of the shriek," and then we hear the screaming of his victim. Fun and terrifying. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 37)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by David Wise, Garfield & Judith Reeves-Stevens
  • Animation by Akom

68. “Girls Night Out”

With “Girl’s Night Out” you get the unofficial female-focused follow-up to “Harley and Ivy,” with Batgirl and Supergirl taking on Harley, Ivy, and Livewire (a Superman villain). The episode is a ton of fun, and Batgirl and Supergirl’s friendship is infectious as they are incredibly supportive of each other. The only flaw is Harley is played a little too dumb for someone with a degree in psychology. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 20)

  • Directed by Curt Geda
  • Written by Hilary J. Bader
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

67. “Off Balance”

“Off Balance” is the meet-cute episode for Batman and Talia Al Ghul, and it’s a blast. Batman teams up with the mysterious Talia to stop Vertigo. While Vertigo himself adds very little to the story, Batman and Talia have romantic chemistry that sets up the Ra’s Al Ghul storyline quite nicely. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 50)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Len Wein
  • Animation by Sunrise

66. “Day of the Samurai”

“Day of the Samurai” follows up “Night of the Ninja” by continuing Bruce’s battle with Kyodai Ken. Bruce Timm directs and I think the storyboarding of the movement is excellent, but the actual animation is a bit stiff at times. That being said, there is a beautiful use of colors, and the fight on the volcano is epic and feels lifted from the Bronze Age. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 44)

  • Directed by Bruce Timm
  • Written by Steve Perry
  • Animation by Blue Pencil, S.I.

65. “Pretty Poison”

“Pretty Poison” makes the case as to why cartoon episodes should be at least 22 minutes instead of the more common 10-12 minutes we see today. The pacing here is fantastic and we are allowed time to develop characters, see more of Harvey and Pamela’s relationship, and let shots breath. Plus, there is a recurring joke with Harvey Bullock and some doughnuts that steals the show. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 5)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini, Michael Reaves, & Tom Ruegger
  • Animation by Sunrise
Poison Ivy.DC Entertainment

64. “Mad as A Hatter”

“All is fair in love and war” is a line uttered in “Mad as a Hatter” that encapsulates the theme of the episode while also raising questions to Hatter’s methods to woo his love Alice with lies and mind control. Honestly, this episode is even more relevant now in the #MeToo era than when it premiered, and Mad Hatter’s distaste of free will makes him one of the creepier villains of BTAS. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 27)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Akom Production

63. “The Clock King”

“The Clock King” is a smart episode featuring a reinvented Green Arrow villain. Physically Temple Fugate is not a threat to Batman, but what works is Fugate's precision and timing is an excellent reflection of Batman's planning. Batman knows everything and is always ready with a plan, but what does he do when he comes up against a villain who has everything timed better than him? (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 25)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by David Wise
  • Animation by Sunrise

62. “Joker's Wild”

“Joker’s Wild” is an episode made for kids about insurance fraud. Let that sink in for a moment. But it’s that idea of not talking down to kids that makes this show work so well. Sadly, this episode suffers from some shoddy animation that holds it back from being the best it could be. But, it is the first and only appearance of the Jokermobile and that’s gotta count for something! (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 41)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Akom Productions

61. “Love is a Croc”

Poor Baby Doll can’t seem to catch a break. In “Love is a Croc,” we find her looking for acceptance in all the wrong places such as Croc, a surprisingly cruel character. Between this and “Sideshow,” he is shown to have little empathy for anyone physically challenged. Like many episodes, this one pushes the boundaries of relationships and shows the darker side of a villain team-up. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 9)

  • Directed by Butch Lukic
  • Written by Steve Gerber
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

60/59. “Heart of Steel Part I & II”

Taking cues from sci-fi horror films like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Terminator, “Heart of Steel” makes for a fantastic two-parter. It’s creepy, intense, full of great references (the music is very Hitchcock’s Vertigo), and emotionally driven. There is very little not to love here and H.A.R.D.A.C. remains one of the best original villains in the show. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 38 & 39)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Brynne Stephens
  • Animation by Sunrise
DC Entertainment

58. “Read My Lips”

Similar to Harley and Joker, “Read my Lips” spotlights another abusive relationship, only this time it is between one man’s multiple personalities, which is fascinating on a whole new level. Interestingly, the voices of Scarface and the Ventriloquist were done by the same man (George Dzundza), which is a nice, subtle touch that adds to the characters. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 64)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Alan Burnett, Michael Reaves, & Joe R. Lansdale
  • Animation by Tokyo Movie Shinsha

57. “His Silicon Soul”

The Strength of “His Silicon Soul” comes from the exploration of Bruce’s devotion to protecting Gotham, viewed through the lens of this “Batman Duplicant” (i.e., a H.A.R.D.A.C. robot) that believes it really is Batman. The episode works so well because it gives us both evil-robot-Batman and an emotional story that leaves you questioning what it means to have a soul. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 62)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Marty Isenberg & Robert N. Skir
  • Animation by Dong Yang

56. “Joker's Millions”

Based off of Detective Comics #180 from 1952, “Joker’s Millions” is a standout episode if for no other reason than it helps you better understand how inheritance tax works! This is another episode that plays above its weight, bringing humor and charm as well as this gem of a line from Joker, “I may be crazy enough to take on Batman, but the IRS? No thank you!” Classic. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 7)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

55. “If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?”

It is not easy to write stories for the Riddler, but this is a solid first attempt. With an interesting story around “work for hire” and the challenges there, the only thing standing in the way of greatness is the animation. Characters are drastically out of proportion, make weird faces, and look very stiff and cartoony. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 40)

  • Directed by Eric Radomski
  • Written by David Wise
  • Animation by Blue Pencil, S.I.

54. “Chemistry”

“Chemistry” finds Bruce meeting the perfect woman and falling head-over-heels in love. He even stops being Batman and gets married, only to learn that she is a construct created by Poison Ivy. The episode explores the challenges of relationships, including when Bruce’s wife delivers a stinging line, “Relationships aren’t supposed to be easy. Even I know that and I’m just a vegetable.” (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 22)

  • Directed by Butch Lukic
  • Written by Stan Berkowitz
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

53. “Vendetta”

Lots of writers like to make Croc out to be dumb, but when he first appeared in the comics, Croc was a cunning up-and-coming mob boss. “Vendetta” works because it leans into that approach. On top of the story, this one has stellar animation, moody rain, and villains ranging from corrupt cops to mob guys to super-villains. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 23)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Michael Reaves
  • Animation by Spectrum Animation Co.
DC Entertainment

52. “The Cat and the Claw Part I”

As mentioned, the “Cat and the Claw” part 1 is significantly better than part 2. First off, it’s boarded really well, including a beautiful “rooftop dance” between Batman and Catwoman that is just gorgeous. Second, it has solid character work and the voice acting by Kevin Conroy is on the money. His embarrassed Bruce is both sweet and charming, and helps you see why Bruce would be such a catch for the ladies. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 15)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Sean Catherine Derek & Laren Bright
  • Animation by Sunrise

51. “Holiday Knights”

"Holiday Knights" is adapted from the 1995 Batman Adventures Holiday Special and is a fantastic holiday-themed episode with three short stories around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. With arguably one of the best moments between Batman and Commissioner Gordon in any medium, there's lots to love about this classic. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 1)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

50. “Sins of the Father”

“Sins of the Father” reveals the origin of the second Robin, Tim Drake (borrowing heavily from the comics’ Jason Todd). The episode is strong, and a little sad in regards to Tim’s parentage. However, it’s got some great jokes, and Tim feels like a solid replacement for Dick Grayson. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 2)

  • Directed by Curt Geda
  • Written by Rich Fogel
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

49. “Cat Scratch Fever”

“Cat Scratch Fever” features a recurring villain named Dr. Milo, is a sleazy scientist who works for scumbag Roland Daggett. Despite not featuring much Catwoman, this episode does have larger ramifications, finally exposing Daggett for his many crimes. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 36)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Sean Catherine Derek & Buzz Dixon
  • Animation by Akom Production

48. “Deep Freeze”

Following “Heart of Ice” is no easy task, but the team gets close with “Deep Freeze,” which delivered some great emotion for Mr. Freeze but is hindered by the larger sci-fi story. This episode is also the only appearance of Bat-Mite (as a robot). When Bat-Mite breaks down he utters, "I was only trying to help" which was his catchphrase in the 1977 cartoon, the New Adventures of Batman. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 19)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm
  • Animation by Dong Yang

47. “Zatanna”

It was mentioned earlier that BTAS tried to avoid magic-based episodes, but that seemed to go out the window with “Zatanna.” Despite its rule-breaking nature, this episode is a ton of fun with flashbacks to Bruce’s early training days and setting up a relationship between Batman and Zatanna that had many fans rooting for Team Zatman — or is it Team Batanna? (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 54)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast & Dan Riba
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

46. “Make ‘Em Laugh”

“Make ‘Em Laugh” is an episode that reveals a different side of the joker. When he's booted off a comedy contest for not being funny, Joker sets out to prove he is the best. This episode shows a Joker who is a bit more self-conscious than at other times. It’s also the first (and only) appearance of Condiment King, a one-off joke that has taken on a life of its own in fandom. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 18)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini & Randy Rogel
  • Animation by Dong Yang
The Condiment King.DC Entertainment

45. “Sideshow”

The bright outdoor environment makes “Sideshow” a fun, visually different episode, but the story is fairly dark and heavy. When an escaped Croc connects with a group of former sideshow acts, his true colors come out, showing him as a very cold and callous villain when dealing with people who look different. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 1)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Michael Reaves & Brynne Stephens
  • Animation by Dong Yang

44. “It's Never Too Late”

No other Batman show had a better mafia/gangster presence than BTAS, and “It’s Never Too Late” is one of the more emotional looks at this world. In many ways, this one feels like it belongs in the Godfather trilogy. It's moody, there are flashbacks done in heavy sepia, and family and honor play a significant theme. It's a beautiful episode. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 12)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Tom Ruegger & Garin Wolf
  • Animation by Spectrum Animation

43. “Fear of Victory”

In the episode “Fear of Victory,” we get a peek inside Robin’s fears and doubts as a spray of Scarecrow gas leaves him afraid of heights and wondering what his purpose is if he isn’t Robin. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 24)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast
  • Written by Samuel Warren Joseph
  • Animation by Tokyo Movie Shinsha

42. “House and Garden”

"House and Garden" is a creepy episode that perfectly walks the line between two horror genres: the monster genre and the paranoid, body snatcher genre. The story also brings a new light to Poison Ivy, who learned that perhaps her cold, lonely plant life wasn't exactly what she wanted. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 5)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

41. “Mudslide”

With “Mudslide” we get a heartbreaking episode where Matt Hagen (aka, Clayface) enlists a doctor to help him find a cure. Stealing medicine and tools for that doctor catches Batman’s attention, and we get one of the best fight scenes of the series with Clayface swallowing Batman and then getting a grappling hook shot out of his head. Ouch. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 52)

  • Directed by Eric Radomski
  • Written by Alan Burnett & Steve Perry
  • Animation by Studio Junio
Clayface.DC Entertainment

40. “See No Evil”

“See No Evil” is both very funny and incredibly disturbing. The episode follows Batman pursuing a man named Lloyd Ventris, who is legally not allowed to see his daughter but uses invisibility tech to try and kidnap her. While one can sympathize with Ventris, we don’t know the reason for the restraining orders, which could easily be something terribly like abuse. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 17)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Martin Pasko
  • Animation by Dong Yang

39. “Never Fear”

“Never Fear” finds Scarecrow experimenting with a type of fear gas that removes any fear. When Batman gets gassed we learn what he’s like with no fear, and it’s not pretty. Meanwhile, Robin has to embrace his own fears and challenge this wild Batman in a scene that’s as intense and frightening for adults as for children. In the end, we learn that a little fear is a good thing. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 6)

  • Directed by Kenji Hachizaki
  • Written by Stan Berkowitz
  • Animation by TMS-Kyokuichi

38. “Trial”

Originally, “Trial” was supposed to be the first full-length animated Batman film. Eventually, the team shifted to Mask of the Phantasm, but it leaves the episode feeling like an amazing concept that is a bit rushed in execution. The episode does feature just about every villain imaginable, so while it should have been a two-parter, it’s still tons of fun. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 3)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm
  • Animation by Dong Yang

37. “Second Chance”

“Second Chance” is a beautiful episode that explores Bruce’s relationships with Harvey and Dick Grayson. Two-Face's portrayal is spot-on here; the dual personality is there, the obsession with duality is balanced just right, and Harvey's coin is front and center. In many ways "Second Chance" is about as good as they come for Two-Face. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 15)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini, Michael Reaves, & Gerry Conway
  • Animation by Dong Yang

36. “Birds of a Feather”

There is a lot that works about “Birds of a Feather.” First, it humanizes Penguin giving him purpose, growth, and loss. Second, it works as an exploration of life as a convict. People (even Bruce) treat Oswald with distrust and distaste. It's hard watching Penguin try to make amends, but still find nothing but contempt from those around him. Both kids and adults leave this episode knowing who the real villains are. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 47)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Chuck Menville & Brynne Stephens
  • Animation by Dong Yang

35. “Harley's Holiday”

No one writes a better Harley Quinn than Paul Dini, and “Harley’s Holiday” may be one of the best examples. An episode filled with slapstick humor, wild action, and heartfelt emotion, there is a lot to love about this classic episode. Plus, few episodes paint Batman as a kinder, better hero than this one. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 16)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang
DC Entertainment

34. “Double Talk”

One of the strongest episodes of the revamped series, “Double Talk” finds another villain (The Ventriloquist) reformed and trying to make right in the world. However, his former crew won’t allow this. Watching Wesker crumble is hard. He’s a genuinely good man with a mental illness he thought he couldn’t control. Thankfully, writer Robert Goodman gives him a happy ending. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 4)

  • Directed by Curt Geda
  • Written by Robert Goodman
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

33. “Baby-Doll”

The story of “Baby-Doll” is the heartbreaking, mental breakdown, actor Mary Dahl suffers after being abandoned by networks and destroyed by critics. It’s clear Mary isn't so much a villain as a victim. The final scene finds Mary in a hall of mirrors where she sees herself as a grown woman. Mary fires her gun into the mirror, shattering that illusion and coming to terms with her mistakes. Crying, she hugs Batman and utters her character's catchphrase, "I didn't mean too." (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 11)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Studio Junio

32/31. “Shadow of the Bat Part I & II”

In BTAS there isn’t too much reference to corruption in the police department, but “Shadow of the Bat” (parts I and II) breaks that wide open with Gordon arrested for allegedly taking bribes. With Batman appearing unwilling to help, Gordon’s daughter Barbara dresses as the Dark Knight to solve things her way. Another great origin episode from BTAS. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 57 & 58)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Brynne Stephens
  • Animation by Spectrum Animation (Part I) & Dong Yang (Part II)

30. “Riddler's Reform”

By far the best Riddler story in BTAS, “Riddler’s Reform” is a fun game of cat and mouse with a perfect ending. Plus, this episode has one of the dirtier jokes of the series when a woman holds up one of Riddler's inventions (a two-way radio) that happens to look like two small balls. She then asks him, "What do these do?" and Riddler's expression is priceless. No idea how that got past the censors. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 14)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, & Randy Rogel
  • Animation by Dong Yang

29. “Dreams in Darkness”

“Dreams in Darkness” is excellent, but what makes this episode stand out is the incredibly trippy, disturbing nightmare sequences that play out in Batman’s mind. Scarecrow’s drugs start subtle with flashes of the Joker and Robin but very quickly move into full-blown scenes of horror. One finds Batman chasing his parents into a tunnel that morphs into a gun barrel dripping blood. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 28)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast
  • Written by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
  • Animation by Studio Junio

28. “On Leather Wings”

“On Leather Wings” was the first episode produced and, for essentially being a pilot, it’s great. The animation is tight, and the voice acting and music is right on par with that we will come to expect from the show. Fun fact: The episode starts with Man-Bat's shadow on the wall as he was flying, and later Justice League Unlimited put Batman Beyond's shadow on the wall in the same style as the final image of their Batman Beyond episode, “Epilogue.” Talk about symmetry. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 1)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Mitch Brian
  • Animation by Spectrum Animation
DC Entertainment

27. “A Bullet for Bullock”

“A Bullet for Bullock” is such a fantastic episode with its unexpected “villain” and music that sounds like an old, seedy crime noir film from the golden age of cinema. Speaking of noir, the lead of the episode, Harvey Bullock is pulled straight from old P.I. novels, but I think Alfred says it best when he refers to Harvey as “the man that looks like an unmade bed.” Mic drop, Alfred. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 67)

  • Directed by Frank Paur
  • Written by Michael Reaves
  • Animation by Studio Junio

26. “Nothing to Fear”

As the first appearance of Scarecrow, “Nothing to Fear” has a lot going for it. One of its best ideas is that Bruce’s greatest fear isn’t failing as Batman, but instead that his parents would be displeased with his choice to be Batman. However, Bruce’s fears are put to rest when Alfred tells him that he knows Bruce’s parents would be proud because Alfred is proud of him. Awww. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 3)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Henry Gilroy & Sean Catherine Derek
  • Animation by Dong Yang

25. “Appointment in Crime Alley”

“Appointment in Crime Alley” is based on Detective Comics #457 from 1976 titled, "There Is No Hope in Crime Alley" and works to show how Batman doesn't always win. Sure, he stopped the bombs, but Roland Daggett got away. It's what makes gangsters/corrupt officials so great. Batman can’t fight them because they usually aren't the ones getting their hands dirty. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 26)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Gerry Conway
  • Animation by Dong Yang

24. “Harley and Ivy”

When it comes to Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, it all started here in “Harley and Ivy.” This one deals with a lot of adult themes and surprisingly tackles abuse head-on. Joker regularly intimidates Harley, and she makes several references to the fact that he beats her. But on the other side of the coin, we also get a lot of female empowerment. Despite being villains, seeing Harley and Ivy mostly succeed is fun. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 56)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

23. “Joker's Favor”

“Joker’s Favor” is an episode that shows an unnerving side of the Joker. After a poor fool shouts at Joker on the highway, he is stalked by the clown prince of crime for years and forced to do a favor for him. This episode also marks the first appearance of Harley Quinn, who definitely doesn’t feel as developed as she’ll eventually become. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 22)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

22. “Growing Pains”

“Growing Pains” may be one of the saddest episodes of the series. Robin tries to help Annie, a 13-year old girl, who is chased by an abusive father figure. The hardest part comes when Robin has to process the fact that Annie is part of Clayface and she dies to save him. In the end, Batman soberly tells Robin a lesson we all learn, “Sometimes there are no happy endings.” Woof. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 8)

  • Directed by Atsuko Tanaka
  • Written by Paul Dini & Robert Goodman
  • Animation by TMS_Kyokuichi

21/20. “The Demon's Quest Part I & II”

If you love Batman with a sword then “The Demon’s Quest” is the two-parter for you! The story comes from a plotline that ran through the Batman comic by Dennis O'Neal and Neal Adams from the ‘70s. O’Neil returns to plot the episode and we get a globetrotting Batman completely out of his element, but still killing it. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 60 & 61)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Dennis O’Neil & Len Wein
  • Animation by Tokio Movie Shinsha
Batman vs. Ra's al Ghul.DC Entertainment

19/18. “Feat of Clay Part I & II”

There is much to love about both parts of “Feat of Clay.” The first part takes time to build the characters and the mood and the second part shows us Clayface in full form, including what is arguably the best-animated sequence in the entire show as Clayface horrifically transforms from role-to-role. Plus, Ron Pearlman who voices Clayface, absolutely delivers in his performance. He has these cries of anguish that just hit your soul. It’s not just a man lost physically, but a man lost mentally, not aware of who he is anymore. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 20 & 21)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast (Pt. 1) Kevin Altieri Pt. 2)
  • Written by Marv Wolfman (Pt. 1) Michael Reaves (Pt. 2)
  • Animation by Akom Production (Pt. 1) Tokyo Movie Shinsha (Pt. 2)

17. “Old Wounds”

“Old Wounds” is one of the few episodes that genuinely changes the status quo. We see a roller coaster of growth, particularly for Dick Grayson. It’s also well written and surprisingly funny. There are bits with the Joker saying he doesn't hit Batman's kids only to realize that, yes, he does. Or when Barbara finds the cave and Alfred tries to convince her that he is Batman. Lots to love here. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 17)

  • Directed by Curt Geda
  • Written by Rich Fogel
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

16/15. “Two-Face Part I & II”

“Two-Face” is an example of how to make a great origin story. The creative team used what worked from the comics (such as giving Harvey a fiancé), but added where needed. The fiancé works because she gives us a human connection to root for his recovery and adds heartbreak when he ultimately doesn’t. The addition of “Big Bad Harv” as repressed guilt gives us the answer to why a heroic DA would snap following an accident. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 10 & 11)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Alan Burnett and Randy Rogel
  • Animation by Tokyo Movie Shinsha (pt. 1) Dong Yang (Pt. 2)

14. “Legends of The Dark Knight”

“Legends of the Dark Knight” manages to capture fandom in 20+ minutes by exploring the notion of how we all view Batman differently. Three kids recount their version of Batman including Batman in a Bill Finger/Dick Sprang/’50s style, a Dark Knight Returns style, and from one kid named “Joel” who thinks Batman should wear tight rubber and have a Batmobile that can drive up walls. This last kid is a humorous reference to the late Joel Schumacher, director of Batman and Robin. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 19)

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Robert Goodman & Bruce Timm
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yang
DC Entertainment

13. “P.O.V.”

“P.O.V.” is very much a character piece, focusing on Renee Montoya, Harvey Bullock, and a rookie officer named Wilkes. No villain is stealing the spotlight, and even Batman acts as an agent of the shadows. Speaking of shadows, the colors and shadows do a lot to add to the moodiness of it. In many ways, the light reflects the stories by the officers. Each officer remembers Batman differently, with Bullock viewing him as a menace, Montoya as a hero, and Wilkes as a myth with almost magical powers. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 7)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Mitch Brian, Sean Catherine Derek, & Laren Bright
  • Animation by Spectrum Animation

12. “Harlequinade”

Yes, there is a silliness in “Harlequinade,” but there is also maturity in the story and the characters are growing (and not growing) in fascinating ways. Take Harley: when Joker betrays her trust, she tries to kill him. She genuinely puts a gun to his head and, with tears in her eyes, pulls the trigger. That’s dark. But what’s darker is when she doesn’t succeed, Joker uses the moment to wrap her right around his finger again. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 2, Episode 7)

  • Directed by Kevin Altieri
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

11. “I Am the Night”

Few episodes of BTAS dive into the psychology of Batman like “I am the Night.” The story finds Bruce struggling with what Batman is accomplishing. He is feeling lost and hopeless. So often, Batman is made out to be more than just human. He has a steely resolve that is unbreakable, and it’s hard to relate to that. Everyone feels tired. Everyone feels like their goal is impossible, but the point of this episode is not to give up. Little things can make all the difference. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 49)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Michael Reaves
  • Animation by Sunrise

10. “Perchance to Dream”

In “Perchance to Dream” we find two villains. First is the Mad Hatter, who builds this fictional world in which Bruce’s parents are still alive and the second is this entity of Batman. For Bruce, Batman is truly the obstacle in the way of a happy life. Bruce battles Batman at the end as a way to solve this dream, but maybe as a hope that he can make this life real even if he knows he can’t. Bruce can’t stop himself. As Batman he’s the villain of his own life, keeping himself prisoner. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 30)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Laren Bright, Michael Reaves & Joe R. Lansdale
  • Animation by Dong Yang

9. “The Laughing Fish”

Here we reach our first Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Dong Yang joint. The best-of-the-best in one place. Based off a story from Detective #475-476, “The Laughing Fish” gives us one of the greatest Joker episodes of them all. Joker is beyond dangerous here, but his whole plan is ludicrous. We have this simplistic, almost childish idea that quickly turns deadly. It shows his goal was never to make money but instead, to give him an opportunity to kill. That's the Joker for you. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 34)

  • Directed by Bruce Timm
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang

8. Beware the Gray Ghost

“Beware the Gray Ghost” is beloved by most fans and for good reason. It’s well animated and has nice nods to the history of Batman including using Batman ‘66’s Adam West as Simon Trent/The Gray Ghost. We also get Bruce Timm as the voice (and appearance) of the Mad Bomber. But the episode really sings in the final scene when Bruce asks Simon for an autograph and tells him that the Gray Ghost was a hero to Bruce as a kid and that he still is. Just like fans and Batman. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 18)

  • Directed by Boyd Kirkland
  • Written by Dennis O’Flaherty & Tom Ruegger
  • Animation by Spectrum
Batman meets his hero.DC Entertainment

7. “Mad Love”

“Mad Love” is a story filled with obsession, abuse, and manipulation. The relationship between Joker and Harley is brought to the light where we see just how sick and twisted it is. Poor Harley is an abused spouse always justifying Joker’s action, and Joker is the uncaring, cruel husband. The episode brings both pity and sympathy for Harley and further pushes Joker into a realm of realistic villainy not seen in animation at this point. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 21)

  • Directed by Butch Lukic
  • Written by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm
  • Animation by Koko/Dong Yong

6/5. “Robin's Reckoning Part I & II”

In many ways, the arrival of Dick saved Batman from going too dark, and in the two-parter “Robin’s Reckoning,” Batman attempts to repay the deed by protecting Robin from the same thing. However, Robin takes Batman’s protection as a blocker. The only thing that changes Robin’s perception is when Batman says, “Zucco's taken so much, caused you much pain. I couldn't stand the thought that he might... take you, too.” With that, Robin realizes how much of a father Batman is. The Batman portrayed here is kind, loving, and concerned. Yes, he needs to learn to trust Robin, but his lack of confidence is not born from doubt, it’s born of love. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 32 & 33)

  • Directed by Dick Sebast
  • Written by Randy Rogel
  • Animation by Spectrum Animation (part I) Dong Yang (Part II)

4. “Over the Edge”

“Over the Edge” is an incredibly adult episode even for a series that consistently felt more grown-up. Visually, it's very mature with things like Batgirl's death, which is hard to watch as she lands on the hood of her father's car. But it's also emotionally heavy, such as when Gordon realizes Batgirl is Barbara and he lashes out hard. It is like watching a loved one slip into alcohol abuse following the death of a child or spouse, only Jim's drink of choice was revenge mixed with anger, and he was guzzling it. Despite being a nightmare, Batgirl can’t just shrug this off and decides to tell her Dad about her life as Batgirl. In a surprising twist, Gordon recognizes her as an adult capable of making her own decisions and even implies that he knows of her double life. (The New Batman Adventures, Season 3, Episode 12)

  • Directed by Yuichiro Yano
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by TMS-Kyokuichi

3. “The Man Who Killed Batman”

“The Man Who Killed Batman” features very little of the caped crusader himself, yet still manages to be one of the best episodes of the series. The mystery surrounding Batman’s death is filled with amazing writing, funny jokes, beautiful animation, and great storytelling. Plus, the characterization of the Joker is one countless writers have imitated ever since. Just enjoy this line from when Joker was fantasizing in his eulogy over how he would have killed Batman: “Or an exploding whoopie-cushion playfully planted in the Batmobile.” Top-notch writing from Paul Dini. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 51)

  • Directed by Bruce Timm
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Sunrise
DC Entertainment

2. “Heart of Ice”

“Heart of Ice” is like watching a distorted version of Batman fail. Think about it, Freeze’s mission and Batman’s are closer than you would realize. Both experienced tragedy and both handled it in unconventional ways, but ultimately Batman could not allow Freeze to complete his goals. Now Freeze must spend his days feeling as though he failed. He couldn’t save his wife, and he couldn’t save himself. It makes Freeze’s final line that much more heartbreaking, “I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it. I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness, and pray you hear me somehow, someplace... someplace where a warm hand waits for mine.” (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 14)

  • Directed by Bruce Timm
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Spectrum Animation

1. “Almost Got ‘Im”

Perhaps surprisingly (perhaps not), “Almost Got ‘Im” sits at the top of the list. Aside from being one of the most iconic, funny, surprising, and beautiful Batman stories ever told, this one has it all as a group of villains gather in a bar to share stories of the times they almost beat Batman. This is the episode you share with people when they ask what makes this series great. This is the episode that took five stories and split them up over a small 22 minutes, and yet every character is spot on and every scene is so well directed that there isn’t a weak moment in the entire episode. The ending with Catwoman and Batman is one of the best moments between these two characters in any medium. Almost Got ‘Im encapsulates everything that makes Batman great. Plus, is there a better line than “I threw a rock at him?” No, there isn’t. (Batman: The Animated Series, Season 1, Episode 46)

  • Directed by Eric Radomski
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Animation by Dong Yang
Batman and Catwoman.DC Entertainment

So, there it is in all its glory. What do you agree with? What do you disagree with? Want to talk to me about it? Comment or follow me on Instagram @SaturdayMorningBatman where I regularly dive into episodes and movies from Batman’s cartoon history including BTAS, Brave and the Bold and even the old Filmation episodes from the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Welcome to the Inverse Superhero Issue! Read more here.

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