Credit: Hidden Remote
Batman: The Animated Series is an undeniable masterpiece that captured the essence of Batman better than most adaptations.
It gave us Kevin Conroy's incomparable Batman and Mark Hamill's transcendent Joker.
Their voices are the ones I (and many others) think of when reading any Batman comic. They were that special.
Paul Dini and Bruce Timm also accomplished the impossible when they created Harley Quinn.
They introduced an iconic character that stands toe-to-toe with any one of Batman's rogues gallery.
The influence this show had on popular culture cannot be overstated.
While there are a myriad of classic episodes, I'm going to narrow this list down to my top 10 favorites.
I'm not saying these are the best. It's just my opinion. So if you disagree, feel free to respond with your own blatantly wrong list in the comments below.
Credit: Never Felt Better
This episode pay homage to Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon by showing different perspectives of the same events.
Different cops give their accounts of a crime where Batman showed up.
Although Harvey Bullock's story is obviously a lie, the rest of the story is up for interpretation.
It explores the nature of truth in a very clever way using the Batman mythos.
There are probably better episodes than this one but Kurosawa and Batman are two of my favorite things so P.O.V. holds a special place in my heart.
9. Harley & Ivy
This Thelma and Louise parody is a lot of fun.
It sees Harley Quinn get fed up with The Joker and decide to go on a crime spree with her new best friend, Poison Ivy.
Harley's ditziness mixed with the Ivy's austerity works really well.
It's also one of those episodes that shows that Batman doesn't need to be the central character in every episode.
The supporting characters are strong enough on their own.
And it shows that the Batman mythos is deep and varied enough to tell interesting stories such as this one.
I hope Gotham City Sirens adapts this episode to some degree.
8. The Man Who Killed Batman
Credit: TV Tropes
Some small time crook named Sidney mistakenly "kills' Batman.
This puts a target on his back where every villain wants a crack at the one guy who was tough enough to foil the caped crusader.
The Joker gives Batman a funeral and delivers a sorrowful eulogy.
This is one of my favorite parts of the show because of the love/hate dynamic between Batman and the Joker.
They hate each other but need each other to have a purpose.
The Joker verbally crucifies Sidney because Batman deserved better than to be killed by some lowly twerp.
And of course he robbed the Joker of the opportunity of killing him himself.
7. Joker's Favor
I just find this episode so hilarious. A regular joe, a schmuck on wheels is being tailgated and he responds in kind by cursing the guy out.
It just so turns out the person he yelled at was the Joker.
The Joker then makes this poor guy his personal plaything and object of derision. He threatens his family and makes him do his bidding.
This defines the Joker to me. He doesn't always have to threaten the whole city with poison gas or laughing fish to prove his villainy.
He can be just as evil by torturing some poor soul purely for his own amusement.
I also feel like this whole episode serves as a PSA about the dangers of road rage.
6. The Trial
Like, another episode on this list, this episode brings together all of Batman's rogues gallery.
Batman's villains lock him up in Arkham Asylum and put him on trial.
They try to place the blame for the misfortune in their lives on Batman.
They portray themselves as victims. Without Batman they never would have gone bad, so they say.
This episode is probably reflective of how many criminals see themselves.
And of course it is just fun to see Batman's villains come together for a bizarre kangaroo court.
5. Mad Love
Harley Quinn's origin story is one of Paul Dini's greatest contributions to the Batman oeuvre. (Fancy word right?)
Dr. Harleen Quinzel is seduced and brainwashed by her patient, the Joker and turns to a life of crime.
For a show meant primarily for kids, this episode was incredibly dark, portraying an abusive, co-dependent relationship.
Harley turns on Joker and it seems by the end that she is finished with him for good. However she finds she can't resist.
This episode showed that Harley has many layers beyond Joker's girlfriend.
Whereas the Joker is irredeemable, Harley is somewhat of a sympathetic figure.
Harvey Dent's downfall is stunning to watch.
His change to Two-Face reflects the duality Bruce Wayne has to live with and serves as a constant reminder of his failure to save his friend.
Two-Face is one of Batman's most fascinating villains in my opinion and this episode perfectly captures the Bruce/Harvey dynamic that makes it so tragic.
3. Over the Edge
I love What if? episodes. The dream episodes of The Sopranos are some of my favorites.
It allows the writers to take crazy chances that pesky continuity previously wouldn't allow.
Over the Edge shows a nightmare scenario for Batman that leads to his downfall.
Ultimately we learn that Scarecrow was behind this nightmare but dreams do have a shred of truth to them.
And the events of this episode are all very realistic. It shows Barbara Gordon's anxieties about keeping a secret from her father.
Commissioner Gordon learns that his daughter is Batgirl. He is outraged that Batman would so flagrantly put his daughter in harm's way.
And then she is sent hurling off a roof onto his car.
Gordon blames Batman for her death and declares all-out war on Batman.
Batman fights the police, Bane, and nearly every other one of his villains.
Alfred is even arrested.
This episode is a masterpiece that shows a scenario that very well could have happened.
2. Almost Got 'Im
Batman's villains get together to play a card game and share stories about how they each almost killed their hated foe.
The episode is centered around the card game and told through flashbacks.
It also provides an opportunity to see Gotham through the lens of these different villains.
I love how they don't particularly like each other, it's just that misery loves company.
Their mutual hatred of Batman brings them together. It's cool to see how they all play off each other, and the twist at the end is thoroughly enjoyable.
It also led to, what is in my opinion, the greatest single moment in the entire show.
1. Heart of Ice
This episode is so incredible it's almost hard to describe. Paul Dini totally redeems Mr. Freeze by making him a tragic figure worthy of sympathy and pity.
The opening and closing imagery of this episode is haunting and unforgettable.
The episode retcons Mr Freeze's background as a scientist researching ways to save his terminally ill wife in a cryo-sleep.
After his funding is cut and his wife dies, Victor Fries turns evil and seeks vengeance.
Batman's villains generally represent some part of him. (Two-Face/double lives, Scarecrow/inducing fear etc.)
Mr. Freeze is a dark mirror reflection of Batman in a way because the trauma of losing his wife led him to crime where instead Bruce Wayne was turned to heroics.
Heart of Ice is so tactfully written that it turned a one-note villain into one of Batman's most compelling foes.