Next month, Batman: The Animated Series finally arrives on Blu-ray – hurrah! For many this release will provide the perfect opportunity to revisit the show. For others this could be the first time they dive into the world of Batman.
So where to start?
Below are the ten best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (B:TAS). The episodes are listed in no particular order, but are in my opinion the crème de la crème of the show’s entire run.
Note: I’m counting two-part stories as one episode.
On Leather Wings
Not only is On Leather Wings one of the best episodes of B:TAS it is also the very first episode! The episode focuses on the arrival of a bat-like creature, stalking the skies of Gotham City and for once, it isn’t Batman!
Heart of Ice
Arguably the most famous episode of B:TAS and for good reason, Heart of Ice is a real corker. Heart of Ice introduces Mr. Freeze into the series and elevates him from a gimmicky hood to a credible and tragic figure amongst Batman’s rogues’ gallery.
Feat of Clay (1 & 2)
This two-part story revolves around Matt Hagen – a movie actor who is transformed into the shape shifting bad guy, Clayface. As with Mr. Freeze, Clayface’s story has a somewhat tragic element, which is heightened through an engaging story and a beautiful score.
Perchance to Dream
What if Bruce Wayne wasn’t Batman? That’s the premise of this episode, which sees Bruce living in a Gotham City where he no longer has to devote his life to fighting crime. What’s more – his parents are still alive!
Robin’s Reckoning (1 & 2)
The origin of Robin is retold in this detailed account of loss, anger and revenge. Robin’s Reckoning is a steller two-part story, where both episodes are as good as each other.
Almost Got ‘Im
The Joker, Penguin, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and Killer Croc all meet up to take part in a poker game. During the course of the game, as they converse, they all share a story about the time they almost bumped off Batman.
The inmates of Arkham take over the asylum and decide to use the opportunity to hold a trial, with death on the cards for the defendant. Who is on trial? Why, Batman of course!
Over the Edge
Batgirl is murdered, Batman is blamed and the Dark Knight’s secret is exposed. Over the course of this twenty-minute episode, all hell breaks loose in Gotham as former friends become bitter enemies. This is also arguably the BEST episode of B:TAS after Heart of Ice.
Once upon a time, Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a promising psychologist at Arkham Asylum… and then she met the Joker. Mad Love tells the origin story of Harley Quinn, showing her transformation from doctor to criminal.
Beware the Gray Ghost
Someone is bombing areas of Gotham City, leading Batman to enlist the help of a former TV actor who once played Bruce Wayne’s biggest hero, the Gray Ghost. Adam West provides voice duties for Simon Trent/the Gray Ghost in what is a poignant passing of the torch from one Batman to another. Superb.
More to explore:
If you work your way through these episodes and you want even more excellent stories from Batman: The Animated Series, then check out the following:
- Two-Face (1 & 2)
- Fear of Victory
- Dreams in Darkness
- Mad as a Hatter
- Heart of Steel (1&2)
- I Am the Night
- His Silicon Soul
- Read My Lips
- Harley’s Holiday
- Old Wounds
- Legends of the Dark Knight
And, if you want to remain firmly planted in the DC Animated Universe – the universe which Batman: The Animated Series exists in – then check out my guide to the best episodes of Batman: Beyond.