“Batman: The Killing Joke” swings into theaters next week! There’s a couple things to be excited about: it’s based on Alan Moore’s extremely dark tale, it’s appropriately Rated R, all the latest Animated movies from DC have been top notch, and it’s bringing back Kevin Conroy as the iconic voice of Batman and of course Mark Hamill’s legendary Joker. Conroy and Hamill have appeared in a number of projects over the past few decades, including the acclaimed Arkham Asylum series, but it all started with Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s 1992-1995’s Emmy-Award-winning Animated Series!
Between its art deco style, film noir storytelling, and its subtle adult themes mixed with a thin layer of comic book campiness, Batman: The Animated Series is a modern masterpiece and arguably the best on-screen adaptation of the characters. The series eventually spun off into the Superman Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.
Here are 15 of my personal favorite episodes:
This is a really clever episode that shows how three different Gotham City cops see The Batman from their own points of view.
14. The Riddler’s Reform
The Riddler has always been one of my favorite villains and this series does his character justice better than any other version. In this episode, Edward Nygma supposedly turns over a new leaf, but Batman knows there’s more than meets the eye.
13. Harley and Ivy
Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn team up for the first time after Harley leaves her abusive boyfriend, the Joker!
12. Beware the Grey Ghost
An episode about Bruce meeting his childhood hero, “The Grey Ghost” – voiced by Adam West!
11. Legends of the Dark Knight
This one features different urban legends about the Batman, shown in alternative styles, including one inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns!
10. It’s Never Too Late
Batman must convince a mobster to turn away from a life of crime in order to stop a gang war from escalating.
9. The Laughing Fish
Every episode with The Joker is a good episode, but this one has a little more weight to it. Inspired by Dennis O’Neil’s “The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge” from the comics.
8. Sub-Zero (movie)
Yeah, I know this one isn’t technically an episode, but it is an essential chapter in the series, so I count it. This came out the same year as Batman and Robin and is superior in every way. A desperate Mr. Freeze kidnaps Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) in an effort to save his wife with an organ transplant, making it personal for Dick Grayson (Robin) and her father, Commissioner Gordon.
7. Over the Edge
Batgirl is murdered by The Scarecrow! Commissioner Gordon blames Batman for the death of his daughter and decides to use any means necessary to bring him down – including hiring Bane to do it!
6. Perchance to Dream
This episode is an emotional roller coaster that really delves into the psyche of Bruce Wayne. Bruce wakes up in an alternate reality where his parents are alive, he’s engaged to Selina Kyle and he’s not Batman… and that’s just the beginning. Seriously, just watch it.
5. Two-Face (2 Parter)
One of the best origins of Two-Face in any medium and one of the best two-parters in television history. That cliff hanger is etched into my brain…
4. Mask of the Phantasm (movie)
To this day, this is still one of my favorite Batman movies, easily ranking among the Burton and Nolan films. The story centers around a mystery involving a new vigilante in Gotham who’s systematically murdering all the mob bosses. It’s also without a doubt the most emotional and tragic love stories ever told in animation. I refuse to say anything else in fear of spoiling it. (Check out my Top 5 DC Animated Movies list for more!)
3. Heart of Ice
This award-winning episode showed that animated shows could have just as much depth as live action ones. It’s also the first time Mr. Freeze was taken seriously, with a revamped origin centering on his attempt to cure his dying wife.
2. Mad Love
I know this one comes up a lot, but it really is the best Harley Quinn-centric story to date. If you haven’t watched it yet, I’m disappointed in you.
- Almost Got ‘Em
This one is a certified classic. The episode centers around all the great Bat-villains recanting tales of near-success against the Batman. It’s funny, suspenseful and cleverly written with a great twist.
The Killing Joke – in theaters July 25th only! (Rated R)
Erik Slader is a blogger, barista, web tech, digital artist, gamer, comic book aficionado, history buff, part-time nerd, and full-time husband. Creator of “Epik Fails of History” (@EpikFails.com) and writer for SuperheroBeach.com, MovementMagazine.com and ComicZombie.net – check out his digital design portfolio at ErikSlader.com