The 49 Best Episodes Of Batman: The Animated Series


What is the best comic book series of all time? Well, an argument could certainly be made for the seminal Batman: The Animated Series. Batman: The Animated Series forever changed how not only we saw animated shows but comic book shows as well and it’s influence reaches even into today’s comics. It set trends by giving new, complex life to formerly silly characters, giving a serious bent to a cartoon show about a superhero and even introducing one of the most popular comic book characters of all time in Harley Quinn.

So I went ahead and made a totally definitive, absolutely positively no room for argument list of the top 49 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series(49 because with counting two-parters as one episode, that’s roughly half of the episodes, also counting The New Batman Adventures in this list since it continued the continuity and really just had a different art style). That’s how lists work right? Anyways, these are in random order except for #1, which is admittedly my personal favorite, so let’s start the list without further ado!

Next: #49:....The Cat And The Claw

#49. “The Cat And The Claw”

Catwoman and Batman has always been drawn to each to each other, but this cartoon show meant for kids not only introduced Selina Kyle in a meaningful way, but handled Batman with more depth and tact than seen in goofy efforts like the 1960s Batman TV show. The actual villain, Red Claw is kind of inconsequential, another pretty dumb terrorist wants to do bad things plot, but the real draw of the episode is the establishing of the relationship between Batman & Catwoman and how they are drawn to each other but can’t really be together. It hasn’t really been explored better in any other movies or TV shows as well as it has been in the about 44 minutes of animation here, and that’s quite the accomplishment.

Next: #48:....Old Wounds

#48. Old Wounds

Almost as long as there has been a Batman, there has always been a Robin. But not always the same Robin. The original Robin, Dick Grayson, eventually split from Batman to become his own hero, Nightwing. That’s pretty natural, though it often takes decades, sidekicks grow older and want to become their own heroes, not just mere sidekicks. But this was more than just the course of nature, Dick Grayson is not Bruce Wayne, and as he got older those differences intensified, creating a growing rift between them, The Batman: The Animated Series episode Old Wounds explores when that rift exploded.

Again, for an animated show, especially one in the 1990s, Batman The Animated series was able to convey complex relationships between characters incredibly well. It shows Batman being the ruthless vigilante, but then also his kinder, gentler side that is actually focused on improving Gotham by doing more than just punching bad guys. It also gets points for one of the funniest lines in the show’s entire run, where Alfred runs into Barbara Gordon in the Batcave and before he knows that Barbara knows Bruce Wayne is Batman, unconvincingly confesses that he, is in fact Batman.

Next: #47:....Love Is A Croc

#47. Love Is A Croc

Batman: The Animated Series was actually a show all about odd couples. Batman & Catwoman, Harley & Ivy, Killer Croc & Baby Doll? Opposites really do attract. But like most relationships in Batman: The Animated Series, it just wasn’t meant to work. Part of that probably has to do with the fact that while Croc is a vicious criminal, he’s not a pedophile, and just can’t be with someone who is physically a child, something that has plagued Baby Doll her entire life. And when Baby Doll realizes that it just won’t work, we as the audience are as heartbroken as she is. This was another rare quality that Batman: The Animated Series had a knack for that even many modern live action Comic Book Shows have trouble pulling off, tragic characters that you actually feel sorry for, and “Love Is A Croc” is a prime example of that even late in the show’s run.

Next: #46:....Never Fear

#46. Never Fear

As scary as Batman is, probably the scariest thing about him is that he’s always in control. Every move is calculated and thought out and he actually thinks of consequences and accountability for his actions. What happens when that control is removed? That’s what “Never Fear” explores, as Batman is doused by Scarecrow’s new gas that actually removes fear from a person rather than intensifying their worst fears, and the result is frankly far more terrifying.

A Batman with no limits and no cares? That might be the scariest thing of it all. It’s all Robin can do to keep Batman from actually dropping criminals off ledges instead of just threatening to and actually trying strangle the Scarecrow to Death. Even for Batman, a little fear is a definitely a good thing.

Next: #45:....Make Em Laugh

#45. Make Em Laugh

Above all else, The Joker needs to be the center of attention and the funniest guy in the room. No episode embodies this more than the pretty hilarious “Make Em Laugh”. It’s a pretty simple tale, Joker wants the title of “funniest man in Gotham” and there actually is a stand-up competition for that, but in true Joker fashion he crashed the previous year’s competition, got dragged off stage and got vengeance the following year by turning the judges into silly criminals such as “Condiment King” (who I honest to God hope someday makes it into a live action Batman movie or TV show, Gotham would be perfect). This episode isn’t particularly deep, but it is a good example of what drives the Joker and it’s really funny, something Batman doesn’t get to be nearly often enough.

Next: #44:....Harley's Holiday

#44. Harley’s Holiday

In Batman: The Animated Series, characters are more than their hero or villain identity. More often than not, they are the result of a really, really bad day. And maybe they deserve a chance at redemption. “Harley’s Holiday” explores this idea pretty well, as free of the Joker’s hold, Harleen Quinzel is declared sane and actually given the chance to live a normal life.

But as you could guess, things go horribly, horribly wrong, and most of it really isn’t Harley’s fault, but it’s enough to make anybody say they’ve had it and go back to the way things were before. Before you know it, she’s accidentally kidnapped the daughter of a hothead army general, and by the end of the day, even Harley doesn’t believe it was all a big misunderstanding. But it was just a really, really bad day, and Batman shows his softer side by telling Harley: “I know what it’s like to try and rebuild a life. I had a bad day, too. Once.”

Next: #43:....Second Chance

#43. Second Chance

Speaking of someone who had a really, really bad day and could use a chance at redemption, Second Chance is a great tale of the tragic Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face and his one rare chance at redemption. Obviously key to that is surgery fixing his monstrous appearance, and that’s exactly what’s being offered here. But Two-Face is a mesh of two different personalities, Harvey Dent and Big Bad Harv, When Big Bad Harv is basically threatened with not existing if the surgery goes through, he orchestrates his own kidnapping.

But when he can’t rely on his coin and has to make a decision on his own, he decides to let Batman help him. It’s an important character moment (that sadly isn’t really picked up on again, but hey it is a cartoon, there are limits). As Harvey is taken into Arkham, Bruce is there, and Harvey tells Bruce it’s good that Bruce is there for him. Bruce tells the same thing to Dick in a rare moment of actually appreciating his partner.

Next: #42:....Showdown

#42. Showdown

One of the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series barely involves Batman. Showdown travels back in time the 1883 and it is instead really a showcase for Jonah Hex, and if you’ve only seen the really terrible movie with Josh Brolin, this episode makes Hex a much cooler character. He gets lots of great lines and moments and shows that he’s not unlike Batman in that he’s just a man, but can still do amazing things in order to achieve justice.

Showdown manages to fit a great Western with fantastic action all into one episode while also showing Batman can have compassion for even arguably his most dangerous enemy, Ra’s Al Ghul.

Next: #41:...A Bullet For Bullock

#41. A Bullet For Bullock

Batman and Harvey Bullock will never be friends. Though they are both on the same side, Harvey believes cops are the ones who should catch criminals and that Batman is no better than any villain.

But when Bullock starts getting pretty serious death threats, he has no one to really turn to but Batman, he even warns Batman that he thinks the Caped Crusader is a freak and menace, and those are his better qualities. The episode is a good exploration of Bullock’s character. He is abrasive (to the point where even non-criminals want him dead, as we find out when the one wanting to kill him is his landlord) and breaks rules, but he’s not a bad guy and he’s not dirty, something rare in Gotham, which is probably why Gordon puts up with him. There’s also the rare dynamic of Batman & Bullock working together, which we only see a couple of times throughout the entire series, but is always interesting.

Next: #40:...Read My Lips

#40. Read My Lips

Really, no villain in Batman history should be more ridiculous than Scarface. He is literally an Al Capone puppet held up by nothing more than the wimpy Alex Wesker, who looks like he would be knocked over by a feather.

But “Read My Lips”, like the best Batman: The Animated Series episodes, has a habit of making any villain, no matter how ridiculous the premise, a genuine threat, and they spend long enough setting up Scarface (you don’t even see him in the first act), that you believe this puppet is a criminal mastermind and a genuine menace. It also shows just how deep the psychosis goes, as Batman is able to convince Scarface that his own ventriloquist has betrayed him, and is ready to have him executed, which his thugs seem willing to do, despite the fact that it will essentially kill Scarface as well. It also makes the scene where Scarface is riddled with bullets seem particularly violent since Scarface is treated seriously as a real character.’

Next: #39:...His Silicon Soul

#39. His Silicon Soul

Croc is right, Batman is a robot! At least in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “His Silicon Soul”. One of the last remaining robots from H.A.R.D.A.C.’s failed attempt to replace humanity with robots is one that looks and acts exactly like Batman. So much so that he is convinced that he is Batman through and through.

So what happens when robot Batman meets the real Batman? Well, the two fight of course, it is a comic book show. And it turns out that the Batman robot functions as sort of a backup plan for H.A.R.D.A.C., as it allows H.A.R.D.A.C. to continue his plan of replacing humans with robot duplicates.

But H.A.R.D.A.C. made his Batman duplicate a little too well. This isn’t just a carbon copy, it IS Batman, it has his essence and his principals, which end up being both his and H.A.R.D.A.C.’s undoing. It’s a fascinatingly deep episode that explores not only what defines Batman, but even explores the concept of a “soul” and what qualifies as one. Pretty heady stuff, even by today’s best standards.

Next: #38:....Shadow Of The Bat

#38. Shadow Of The Bat

Batman: The Animated series gets a lot of credit for how well it introduced villains, but it did right by introducing heroes as well. In Shadow of The Bat, the OTHER beacon of justice in Gotham city, the incorruptible James Gordon, has been arrested for corruption! While Batman is trying to help by proving Jim’s innocence, his daughter Barbara, is convinced that’s not enough, and actually dresses up as Batman so that “Batman” can make an appearance at a public support rally for her father. And thus Batgirl is born!

Shadow of The Bat is important not only for introducing animated Batgirl, who would play a key role that would even continue into Batman Beyond as the latest police commissioner, but also showing what it might have been like on Robin or even Batman’s first superhero outing (hey, they didn’t start out perfect). Batman (and Robin to a slightly lesser extent) aren’t really allowed to be goofy and screw up in this fashion, but a new superhero like Batgirl might totally do things like being tripped up by a tied down thug or messing up with a grappling hook. Another fun episode that explores something we don’t ordinarily see in the world of Batman.

Next: #37:...The Mechanic

#36.The Mechanic

I think this entry might be considered one of my more controversial pics, as the basic plot device (Penguin gets remote control of the Batmobile) isn’t one of the better fleshed out ideas of the run of Batman: The Animated series.

But that’s not really important here, what is important is that it answers one of those geekiest of geek questions: Who fixes the Batmobile? Bruce Wayne is a genius, but that doesn’t mean he can maintain the Batmobile all by himself. This episode answers that question and does gives us a little peek into the life of such a man. I always appreciate episodes of Batman: The Animated Series that explore different aspects of Batman’s life beyond whatever criminal he’s punching this week and expands his world just a little bit more, and that’s exactly what “The Mechanic” accomplishes.

Next: #36:...Paging The Crime Doctor

#36. Paging The Crime Doctor

On a lot of levels, Paging The Crime Doctor shouldn’t work on a cartoon show like Batman: The Animated Series. It’s a story about old guys (mainly Rupert Thorne and his brother Matthew) and doesn’t feature Batman a ton or even has a lot of action. But what it does really well is a tell a great story of a man who’s life was basically ruined by one bad decision (and it was to help out his brother), and his life has been in turmoil ever since.

The final scene is arguably one of the best of the series, as Bruce Wayne mysteriously shows up to cover Matthew’s legal fees and defense, and Matthew suspects a sinister motive, but is overjoyed when all Bruce wants is to learn more about his father since Thomas Wayne and Matthew Thorne were fiends in medical school. Just a brilliantly told and touching episode.

Next: #35:....Birds Of A Feather

#35. Birds Of A Feather

Batman: The Animated Series was one of only a handful of shows that could make us feel great empathy for its villains. A prime example of this is most definitely “Birds of A Feather”, where Penguin is quite tired of the criminal life and longs to be a member of high society.

But of course when you spend years robbing said high society, they aren’t particularly welcoming. It makes it all the worse when some assholes decide pretending to be Penguin’s friends just to humiliate him in public will be funny as hell. How could you not feel for the man? Or blame him when he’s enraged enough by the farce to return to his criminal ways to extract revenge? As he states to socialite Veronica, all he wanted was friendship, which cost nothing.

Next: #34:....What Is Reality

#34. What Is Reality

As virtual reality is trending once again, it’s really interesting to take a look back at episodes like this. Simply put Riddler is back and is erasing all records of his existence while also causing digital mayhem across Gotham (anther one of those computers are magic things). When a virtual reality set shows up at GCPD headquarters, they are smart enough to let Robin, maybe the most expendable sidekick of all time, try it out first. But Riddler’s a little smarter than that, he doesn’t go for the first bite, it’s not Robin he is after. When Gordon gives the VR headset a whirl is when the trap is sprung, and Batman must venture inside Riddler’s twisted world to save him.

“What is Reality” gets points for basically being one of the more visually interesting episode of Batman: The Animated series, and it should be on premise alone. You get to see lots of cool and strange visuals and of course lots of straight up breaking the rules. I would say the story doesn’t necessarily hold up great, but I will never get tired of seeing knight chess piece Batman riding a Pegasus through constellations trying to kill him.

Next: #33:....On Leather Wings

#33.On Leather Wings

While “Christmas With The Joker” was the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series to air, it was almost like a proof of concept. It didn’t establish anything. “On Leather Wings” had to do all the hard work, establishing the look, feel and relationships of Batman: The Animated Series in a mere 22 minutes and completely sell you on it.

And it does it beautifully, establishing Batman’s universe and the feel and tone of the show right from the first episode. Most shows can spend a few episodes or even a whole first season finding their footing. Episodes from later in the run don’t mesh with early ones. “On Leather Wings” could’ve taken place at pretty much any time in the show’s entire run because everything is in place right from the start. That confidence (and success) is rare in any series, let alone a cartoon.

Next: #32:....Heart Of Steel

#32. Heart Of Steel

I actually feel like “His Silicon Soul” is a stronger episode, but you can’t have “His Silicon Soul” without “Heart Of Steel”. It not just a great episode on it’s own, but it also introduces Barbara Gordon into the series, and it does a great job establishing her.

Basically, people are being replaced by robots, and it all leads back to H.A.R.D.A.C., an A.I. who has decided humanity can’t really make good decisions, so let’s replace them. The basic plot could be goofy, but is helped by a lot of greatly drawn and terrifying imagery of said robots, and a little glimpse into Jim Gordon’s personal life and who he is outside of the job and his relationship to Barbara.

Next: #31:....Perchance To Dream

#31 Perchance To Dream

What if you woke up from your worst nightmare to a perfect life? What if you knew something about that life was wrong, could you just accept it and move on and be happy? That’s what Batman has to face in the episode “Perchance To Dream”. He wakes up and not only is someone else Batman, his parents are alive! He’s engaged to Selina Kyle, who is just a lovely socialite and not a criminal cat burglar! He should be ecstatic and never question it, right?

But years before Neo knew something was wrong with the Matrix, Batman knew this perfect life was a lie, and try as he might, he just couldn’t accept it, and had to return to his real, but heart-breaking reality. This was all he plot of the Mad Hatter as a way to keep Batman out of his life, and may have wounded Batman the most of any villain, causing him to know what his life might have been like had his parents never been murdered.

Next: #30:....Mad As A Hatter

#30. Mad As A Hatter

I think most people can identify with the unattainable workplace crush, certainly anybody who is a shy nerdy comic book fan. I also think most people can identify with escaping into fantasy to take a break from the real world, that’s pretty much any shy nerdy person. And on some level, that makes Jervis Tetch, aka The Mad Hatter sympathetic when we first meet him. He is just a shy lonely guy who loves Alice in Wonderland with a crush on a co-worker. He’s not even being particularly stalker-ish or creepy about it at first.

But it’s his inability to separate fantasy from reality that of course makes him very creepy and suddenly kind of terrifying as he uses his mind control technology to force people to do whatever he wants when he can’t just make it happen on his own. This is also one of many examples of a character who was a pretty goofy villain when they wee first introduced given some real depth and character and improved by being in Batman: The Animated Series.

Next: #29:....Nothing To Fear

#29. Nothing To Fear

Another fantastic introduction of a great Batman villain, to Batman: The Animated Series, Scarecrow actually remains largely unchanged from his original comic book counterpart. He might be a little more sinister, but he’s still Dr. Jonathon Crane, creepy professor who is fascinated by fear and tries to control people by unleashing their worst fears upon them.

While a certain Marvel hero bears the moniker of “The Man With No Fear”, we generally like to think of Batman as a guy who doesn’t fear anything. I mean, this is a guy who often stands toe-to-toe with the most fearsome criminals in Gotham, and occasionally the most powerful beings in the universe. And he is a master of fear himself. What could he possibly be afraid of?

But Batman in fact has fears. The biggest being that even though he is Batman and runs Wayne Enterprises pretty successfully, he hasn’t lived up to his father’s expectations. When he is dosed with a heavy hit of Scarecrow’s gas, he has to deal with that possibility, and it causes a rare time of self-doubt in Batman. But “Nothing To Fear” also shows why Alfred is so important. He’s not just Wayne’s faithful servant, in a way he is Bruce’s father, and when Alfred tells him that he knows Thomas Wayne would be proud of his son because he’s so proud of him, that’s all Bruce needs to break free of the gas’ hold on his psyche.

Next: #28:....Girls Night Out

#28. Girls Night Out

The trio of Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Livewire would cause trouble for even he biggest and best superheroes, so even though Batgirl & Supergirl are plenty capable in their own right, one wonders if they can handle this trio on their own.

“Girls Night Out” is possibly the only episode of Batman: The Animated series where Batman doesn’t even make an appearance, but it’s a testament to how strong the other characters are that it’s still one of the best episodes. There aren’t any deep explorations of depressing issues, but it’s incredibly fun with a ton of great humor and Harley’s solution of trying to hit everything with a hammer is one of the funniest running gags I have ever seen.

Next: #27:....Legends Of he Dark Knight

#27. Legends Of The Dark Knight

One of my favorite things anywhere ever is Turtles Forever, a movie where the current (meaning at that time, which was 2009) Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles meet past animated versions of themselves and even their original gritty comic book counterparts. It’s a great homage to the history of the franchise.

Legends of the Dark Knight is somewhat similar in concept, though sadly there is no meeting of Batman: The Animated Series Batman and say, Superfriends Batman. Instead, it is kids imagining what Batman is like, and seeing their versions are loving tributes to the work of Dick Sprang & Frank Miller, which fro many kids was their first introduction of any sort to the seminal Dark Knight Returns. The actual story that wraps around the device is pretty weak, but shows almost never did nerdy fun fan service like this at the time (unlike say Ultimate Spider-Man, which absolutely gushes with fan service and obscure references), so it’s still an incredibly fun episode to watch.

Next: #26:....Over The Edge

#26. Over The Edge

Jim Gordon is Batman’s most valuable ally, period. He supports Batman to the extent of allowing a “Bat-signal” on the roof of the GCPD, and turns a blind eye to investigating who Batman might be. Because if Gordon wanted to, he could tear down Batman’s world in a minute, and that is shown in the “What if” episode of Batman: The Animated Series, “Over The Edge”.

Barbara Gordon is dead, and Jim Gordon wants someone to answer for it, and his rage and grief is all focused on Batman. This not surprisingly turns out to be a nightmare of Barbara’s, but it doesn’t really lessen the impact of the episode. This makes Barbara want to tell her dad all about her secret identity, but Gordon’s a smart guy, he already knows, but of course can’t officially acknowledge it. It’s just an all-around great episode with even a surprising bit of humor thrown in for such a dark story.

Next: #25:....The Ultimate Thrill

#25. The Ultimate Thrill

While “The Ultimate Thrill” doesn’t have any deep meaning, it arguably the most action-packed of all episodes of Batman: The Animated series and is incredibly fun. Roxy Rocket, a former stunt woman who can’t get a job because she thinks safety is for losers, is pulling off daring and death-defying heists all over Gotham. But she’s not really in it for the money, she is in it for the rush, and that only amplifies when someone as capable as Batman is chasing her.

Roxy is a particularly complex villain, but she embodies what makes some of the best ones, in that money is at best a secondary motivation to her crimes. She literally gets off on the thrill of danger, and that combined with some of the best actin sequences in the whole series, make for a very fun episode.

Next: #24:....Growing Pains

#24. Growing Pains

For my money, “Growing Pains” is easily the most heart-wrenching episode of Batman: The Animated series, and possibly the most emotional of any kids show ever. Robin makes a new friend of a homeless girl with no memory, but when her “father” turns up to reclaim her, there is a shocking and horrifying twist.

“Growing Pains” delves into young Tim Drake’s growing up some, but Batman still treating him like a child. But he IS still a child, this isn’t 20 year old Dick Grayson we are talking about. And that means he makes rasher decisions and loses control easier and someone (namely Batman) needs to make sure he doesn’t go to far. But it’s the friendship between Robin & “Annie” that takes a horrifying turn that is the emotional gut punch of the episode. As Batman tells his young partner one of the hardest truths about growing up, not every story has a happy ending.

Next: #23:....Joker's Millions

#23.Joker’s Millions

Something that is rarely addressed in comic book shows (and really comic books in general) is money. Sure, most superheros have jobs of some sort, but what about criminals? Cash flow has to be an issue at least some of the time. The Batman: The Animated series episode “Joker’s Millions” explores this idea in a rather hilarious fashion. Joker is so broke he can’t even feed Harley’s hyenas while she’s in jail. Then he gets a windfall when some old rival mob boss dies and for some reason leaves Joker his vast fortune.

And that’s where it gets completely ridiculous, but completely hilarious as well. Rather than freeing Harley, Joker holds auditions for a new one, which sends the original into quite the justifiable rage when she finds out. He bribes people to declare him no longer a threat to society. But then it all falls apart as the IRS comes calling and most of the money turns out to be fake as it was a prank from the grave. Even Joker isn’t crazy enough to take on the IRS. Arguably the funniest episode of Batman: The Animated Series’ entire run, and although it gets plenty of acclaim for tackling serious matter, it handled straight up comedy quite deftly as well.

Next: #22:....Double Talk

#22. Double Talk

About 99% of the criminal rehab stories in Batman: The Animated series turn out bad. Either the villain could never turn away from their criminal nature in the first place, or have such a bad experience they go right back to a life crime because why wouldn’t you after all that?

“Double Talk” is a rare success story, Scarface’s ventriloquist, Arnold Wekser, has spent months in Arkham, seemingly rehabilitated with no sign of the Scarface persona. He is let out and even given a job and a place to live by Bruce Wayne (again the actually making Gotham a better place to live and not just punching bad guys aspect of Batman that movies seem to skip).

But the criminal elements of Wekser’s life, including his Scarface personality do try to bring him back into the criminal life, But rather than succumbing, this is a rare instance of the criminal cutting off his evil tendencies by “killing” his split personality. It’s an important episode because it shows that yes, even violent criminals might be redeemed if they were actually given a chance and maybe some help along the way.

Next: #21:....Harlequinade

#21. Harlenquinade

Any episode with Harley Quinn in it usually ends up being one of the better Batman: The Animated series episodes, and “Harlequinade” is miss Quinzel’s first chance to truly shine on her own, as Batman recruits her to stop the Joker from detonating an atomic bomb in Gotham.

This is our first full taste of Harley Quinn, and it’s quite an enjoyable one. She’s goofy and kind of a klutz sometimes, but you get hints of why she fell in with The Joker in the first place, and you also get to see her exude her musical talents! But also, you see the first hint of her breaking away from The Joker even a little bit as she realizes that he was going to be blow up the city with her and all their Arkham pals in it. A great showcase episode.

#20. Mad Love

Where to even begin on Mad Love? At it’s core, it is the story of how budding young professional psychologist Harleen Quinzel became Harley Quinn, but it touches on so much more. It’s definitely Harley Quinn’s show, but it also does that deep dive of things like the Joker having a thousand different made-up stories of why he is he way his, and while they probably all contain a glimmer of truth, none of them are real (not even the supposed “canon” one of him being a comedian who had a really bad day from “The Killing Joke”, people!).

Also, that Joker’s obsession with Batman goes so far, that he can’t even be happy that Harley practically hands him his most hated enemy on a silver platter, instead enraged she did this behind his back, and HE APOLOGIZES AND ALMOST LETS BATMAN GO. He does come to his senses and try to kill Batman, but by then it’s too late. Even on how easily Joker can win Harley back with the simplest of gestures. A masterpiece that is equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, and if this was an actual ranked list, this episode would probably be much higher.

Next: #19:....Trial

#19. Trial

Is Batman just making Gotham worse? Sure seems like a lot of super criminals have popped up since he came to town. That’s the question expertly explored in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Trial”, where pretty much Batman’s entire rogue’s gallery captures him and puts him on trial for actually creating each and every one of them.

But of course the answer is all these villains were completely nuts long before they met Batman, and odds are things would be way worse in Gotham without him around. Even the villains actually cop to this, bringing in a surprising not guilty verdict (before trying to kill Batman anyways). But it’s a great idea to explore and it’s done to fascinating and sometimes hilarious effect in this episode.

Next: #18:....Harley & Ivy

#18. Harley & Ivy

On paper, a team like Harley & Ivy absolutely should not work. Harley is a goofball and Ivy is about as no-nonsense as they come. But as I’ve stated before, Batman: The Animated Series is a show filled with odd pairings that just work somehow, and Harley & Ivy have an undeniable chemistry right from the start that helps make this one of the series strongest episodes.

And it’s not just a crime partnership, but a true friendship (and really more) as Ivy really cares about Harley and tries to get her to free herself from her “puddin” and be an independent woman. You can see her succeeding just a little bit in one of the series most badass moments, dealing with some horny frat boys cat-calling at them. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, one that I hope to see on the big screen someday.

Next: #17:....The Man Who Killed Batman

#17. The Man Who Killed Batman

Batman is probably going to die in the line of duty someday. It might be Joker or Two-Face, or it might be some run of the mill schlub who got lucky. “The Man Who Killed Batman” is the story of that schlub and how Gotham might react if Batman was actually gone.

And it’s in some surprising ways. Harvey Bullock, of all people is pretty shaken at the news as he comforts a crying Montoya. Joker might be hit hardest of all, when he stops robbing a bank because he realizes Batman isn’t coming to stop him, and says “Without Batman, crime has no punchline.” He even holds a very solemn funeral for his arch-enemy (well as solemn as a funeral put on by the Joker would get). It’s even an examination of sudden fame as “Sid The Squid” experiences the highs and the terrifying lows of being a nobody that “offed” Batman.

Next: #16:....Day Of The Samurai

#16. Day Of The Samurai

Batman: The Animated Series rarely traveled outside of Gotham, and “Day Of The Samurai” is one of only a couple episodes that delve into Bruce Wayne’s martial arts training and how Batman balances the spirit of both Samurai and Ninja. With numerous actors talking rather flawlessly in Japanese, it really helps you feel like this episode takes place in a foreign land and not just a different backdrop that really has no bearing on anything. Bruce’s martial arts rival, Kyodai Ken returns, and is looking for a secret art that can bring death to enemies with little more than a touch.

“Day Of The Samurai” also contains some of the best fight sequences of the show’s entire run, and not all of them involve Batman. Though the obvious highlight is the fight in the active volcano at the end and Batman showing the true essence of the samurai by offering to help his rival escape the volcano (though Kyodai Ken chose to let the volcano take him instead).

Next: #15:....If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?

#15. If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?

Batman: The Animated Series excelled in so many areas, but one of it’s strongest attributes was introducing classic villains to the show, and “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich” is another good example of that. And it’s a good question asked of lots of supposedly smart people. I mean, Edward Nygma is an incredibly smart guy, why doesn’t he just get rich off his smarts?

But it’s because Edward Nygma can’t just be smart. He has to be the smartest guy in Gotham. Money is a distant concern to besting others, and it’s his obsession that ultimately his undoing. Another highlight is Nygma’s real life recreation of his game, Riddle Of The Minotaur, which Batman has to get through. Just a great villain origin episode, which was a trademark of the series.

Next: #14:....The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne

#14: The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne

Somebody is blackmailing Judge Maria Vargas with her deepest darkest secret, and Bruce Wayne intends to find out who is doing it and how. In the process though, he actually reveals just a little too much about himself to the villainous Dr. Hugo Strange.

“The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne” might get some flack for Batman taking unnecessary risks, but I really enjoy this episode. It shows Bruce’s sense of humor (and yes, Batman has a sense of humor, at least in the good depictions) when he asks Robin if he looks stressed out. I love the idea of several villains bidding on Batman’s secret identity, with Joker easily being the highlight (as usual). And when the villains reject the idea that it’s Bruce Wayne (because that’s about as ludicrous as Superman actually being some mild-mannered reporter), I just find it hilarious, along with Dick impersonating Bruce. It’s not a particularly deep episode, but I think it’s very fun and one of the ones I always remember even if I haven’t seen it for several years.

Next: #13:....Robin's Reckoning

#13. Robin’s Reckoning

Bruce’s Wayne’s traumatic childhood is delved into time and time again, but what about Dick Grayson? His childhood was similarly tragic, with his parents being murdered right in front of him. “Robin’s Reckoning” explores Robin’s own quest for vengeance, as he tries to catch and possibly kill the man responsible for his parents murder.

“Robin’s Reckoning” is Dick Grayson’s big spotlight moment in Batman: The Animated Series and it doesn’t go to waste. In fact, Robin’s Reckoning” is the one episode of Batman: Animated Series to win an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program (though it’s won other Emmy’s in other categories). It really helped legitimize Robin as a serious partner and more than just a dopey kid sidekick like he had been in the past. It’s a great exploration of Bruce & Dick’s relationship as well as a good examination of the whole justice vs. vengeance argument.

Next: #12:....I Am The Night

#12. I Am The Night

We rarely see Bruce Wayne question his decision to become Batman or ever even consider giving up the life of a crime fighter. But that’s what he does in “I Am The Night”, as Commissioner James Gordon, who is very much a father figure to Batman even if he doesn’t realize it, is shot, Bullock blames Batman because he was late to their raid operation. And Batman wonders if anything he does makes a difference.

Of course he does make a difference, and Gordon tells him that by letting him no that if he was younger, he’d want to be Batman, because he sees Batman as a hero, and that combined with some reassurance from Robin is all he really needs. Even Batman has his moments of doubt and near breaking points an this episode is a perfect example of that.

Next: #11:....Clock King

#11. The Clock King

One of Batman: The Animated Series greatest tricks was pulling out ridiculous villains and giving them great serious makeovers. The Clock King is a prime example of this. Clock King is one of the silliest villains ever, and he’s a Green Arrow reject villain to boot. HE WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE GREEN ARROW. That should’ve relegated him to completely unusable status.

But what the Batman: The Animated series episode does so well at re-inventing Temple Fugit is turning a gimmick into an obsession. The Clock King is less about time and more about precision and perfect execution, and it’s what makes him just as deadly as any of Batman’s worst villains. And like many, the Clock King was mostly the result of a really, really bad day.

Next: #10:....Vendetta


“Vendetta” is the first time we get to see Killer Croc in Batman: The Animated series, but it’s much more a Harvey Bullock story, and as per usual, the show really shines all he brighter when it turns its focus to the secondary characters.

Bullock isn’t the cleanest of cops, so it’s not hard to believe he might be in league the mob and taking out potential witnesses. Turns out it’s freakishly strong alligator man Killer Croc framing Bullock, but everybody, even Batman was willing to believe Bullock was guilty at first. And after Batman proves his innocence (and admitting he was wrong to believe Bullock was guilty in the first place), Bullock seems to ease up on his stance on Batman just the tiniest bit, which for Bullock is huge. It’s a great exploration of Bullock and what makes him tick combined with plenty of moments of Batman badassery, a winning combo for sure.

Next: #9:....Joker's Favor

#9. Joker’s Favor

Even if “Joker’s Favor” was a terrible episode, it would get placement on this list for being one of the biggest moments in comic book history, the introduction of one Harley Quinn, now one of the most popular characters in comic books.

But “Joker’s Favor” is one of the funniest episodes of the entire run of Batman: The Animated series. There’s just so much gold here, and it all hinges on Joker at arguably his most insane. How else would you describe it when he calls in a favor from some random guy who cut him off on the road years ago just to help Harley bring a cake into a celebration for Commissioner Gordon. Of course it’s a plot to kill Gordon and everyone in the room including this poor schmuck, but it could’ve been ANYBODY, Joker specifically tracked this guy down even after he changed his name and moved. That is both frightening and hilarious. Also of note is this is the only episode where Batman genuinely laughs in amusement, it might be the only time he’s genuinely laughed in his decades of existence.

Next: #8:....Feat Of Clay

#8. Feat Of Clay

Another fantastic villain introduction, “Feat of Clay” is the origin of Batman’s only real super-powered nemesis, Clayface. Matt Hagen is a great actor, but a car accident wrecked his face and now he depends of Roland Daggett’s experimental Renuyu formula, which comes with the price of doing some shady stuff for Daggett, Dagett decides to kill Hagen after a botched espionage job, and rather than just shooting Hagen, Dagget’s thugs poor of bunch of Renuyu formula down Hagen’s throat. Probably should kill him, bit of course instead it creates Clayface.

And Clayface is a not horribly subtle metaphor for drug addiction, which like many things on Batman: The Animated Series, is a surprising subject for a kid’s show to tackle. But it’s handled deftly and Clayface is a truly terrifying visual thanks to the superb animation in this episode.

Next: #7:....Beware The Gray Ghost

#7. Beware The Gray Ghost

When a villain from a childhood TV show pops up and starts bombing Gotham with toys, Batman must turn to one of his own childhood heroes for hope, the Grey Ghost!

And “Beware The Grey Ghost” is huge tribute to Batman’s past and probably many of the writer’s childhoods, as I imagine lots of them saw the seminal Batman TV show starring Ada West, who also voices the Grey Ghost in this episode and was Bruce Wayne’s hero when he was a child. It also cleverly mirrors West’s career misfortunes after Batman. Simon Trent, the actor who played Grey Ghost, can’t seem to get another role and is heavily dependent on his fading fame to get by. But he finds out how much a hero he was to Batman, realizing he made a difference, and he embraces his past and is able to find new success in that way, much like Adam West did himself.

Next: #6:....Heart Of Ice

#6 Heart Of Ice

Batman” The Animated Series took a lot of silly villains and gave them a serious makeover not to only make them a threat, but also to make them more developed and empathetic. They weren’t just some cheesy jerk in a costume. The had complexities. Nowhere was this more apparent than in “Heart Of Ice”.

Before “Heart Of Ice”, Mr. Freeze was simply a joke character. But Batman” The Animated Series gave him the tragic backstory of his wife Nora, plagued with an incurable disease. It also gave him his trademark cold suit, But importantly, it made him cold inside and out. Detached from any emotion beyond revenge against his former employer for stopping him from freezing his wife in cryogenic stasis until a cure could be found. It’s one of he most groundbreaking episodes that still carries weight today as this sacred canon for Mr. Freeze in the general DC comic book universe.

Next: #5:....It's Never Too Late

#5. It’s Never Too Late

Again in a story that’s not really about Batman (who’s show is this again?) it’s the emotional core that rings strongest in episodes like “It’s Never Too Late”, as the war between mob bosses Rupert Thorne & Arnold Stromwell reaches a breaking point as not only is Stromwell’s criminal empire collapsing around him, but his son has gone missing.

The emotional breakdown of Stromwell is portrayed incredibly well as he doesn’t break down easy, and even tries a last ditch effort to still be true to his mob roots, but it just all turns out to be too much. An early example in Batman: The Animated Series that it could handle emotional depth pretty much as well as any live action TV show.

Next: #4:....Two-Face


The Batman: The Animated Series episode Two-Face is unique in that it’s not the first appearance of it’s villain, but it is his origin. We know Harvey Dent at this point, he’s made several appearances already. We like Harvey Dent. He’s a good District Attorney and a charming guy who is one of Bruce Wayne’s best friends, and Bruce Wayne doesn’t have a lot of real friends in his life.

But like nearly everyone in Gotham, Harvey Dent has a dark side, one that’s incredibly dangerous and seemingly being pushed closer and closer to the surface lately. “Big Bad Harv” isn’t really a split personality, it’s just Harvey really letting his dark side out. And when half of Harvey’s face is monstrously disfigured by a combination of explosion and not horribly successful plastic surgery, that dark side completely takes over. But it’s more than that, as whatever form his origin takes, Batman always feels responsible for the creation of Two-Face, because Harvey Dent was one of his best friends, and he always fails to save him, be it being unable to stop an explosion or save his face from acid thrown by a thug in the court room. It’s one of Batman’s most enduring failures, and haunts him to this day.

Next: #3:....P.O.V.

#3. P.O.V.

You have to love when an animated children’s show pays homage of Rashomon of all things. P.O.V. is Renee Montoya, Officer Wilkes & Harvey Bullock each telling their version of how a sting operation went wrong.

Of course each version is different, because we all recall things differently, that’s human nature. However unlike the famous movie, this episode of Batman: The Animated Series has one person, Harvey Bullock deliberately lying to cover his own ass. Claiming things like Batman alerting to criminals by making a loud noise when he was he one who did that and even claiming he saved Batman when it was he other way around. Wilkes just seems to think Batman is superhuman. Montoya becomes a valuable ally to Batman and it’s just a clever device and really fun episode as we don’t often see then inner workings of the GCPD.

Next: #2:....Christmas With The Joker

#2. Christmas With The Joker

I love Christmas. I love Batman: The Animated series. I love the Joker. All these wonderful elements combine to downright magical seasonal perfection in Christmas With The Joker. It also helps that this was the first episode of Batman: The Animated series I ever saw (remember when DVR and streaming weren’t a thing, kids?), so it instantly holds a special lace for me among animated TV shows.

And “Christmas With The Joker” is just a wonderfully psychotic Christmas tale of the Joker breaking out of Arkham Asylum, kidnapping several prominent friends of Batman and holding them hostage while he takes over he airwaves and does his own Christmas special. As great as this episode is, sadly Harley Quinn had not been invented when this episode was written, because she would’ve made it even better. I kind of want them to go back and remake this episode with Harley Quinn in it, I promise you everyone would highly approve. Regardless, this episode should be a Christmas tradition for every Batman fan.

Next: #1:....Almost Got 'Im

#1. Almost Got ‘Im

There is no more perfect episode in all of the DCAU than “Almost Got ‘Im”, it’s an incredibly clever conceit of Batman’s biggest enemies trading war stories of how they all nearly have killed Batman a one time or another through some overly elaborate death trap he somehow escapes time after time.

The stories keep building on each other (except for Croc, because well, he just threw a really big rock at him) but Joker saves the best for last. But it’s actually Batman himself who saved the best trap for last as he was disguised as Croc the entire time, waiting for the information he needed until he sprung his own trap for the villains, an the reveal is one of he most badass moments of the entire show. “Almost Got ‘Em” doesn’t pack a message or an emotional gut punch like some episodes manage, but it’s masterfully entertaining story telling on a level few shows, animated or otherwise ever achieve.

And that’s the list of the top 49 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. Got the urge to check out the show after reading about all these awesome episodes. Of course you can go out and buy the show on DVD (but not Blu-ray sadly), but they are also available for free screaming if you are a member of Amazon Prime. Now remember if this list was in no particular order except for #1, so don’t ask why “Mad Love” is lower than “Clock King”. But do feel free to argue about why I didn’t include your favorite episodes. I mean, someone’s gotta love “I’ve Got Batman in My Basement”, right?