What are the darkest Batman The Animated Series episodes?
In 1992, a group of artists and writers made history. The first episode of Batman The Animated Series aired. And it completely shifted the way we look at superhero narratives. It also garnered critical acclaim and Emmys for its art deco production design. And for its pitch-perfect voice performances. And its dark storylines. But at the same time, it was still a children's show, just one that happened to get surprisingly real. So, do you want a particularly shadowy trip down memory lane? Then check out the darkest Batman The Animated Series episodes ever. How did these get past the censors?
The Man Who Killed Batman
Dreams In Darkness
Picture a list for "things children's cartoons probably shouldn't talk about". Wouldn't you put "human slavery" near the top? Batman: The Animated Series ain't like other children's cartoons. "The Forgotten" plunges headfirst into an undercover mission gone awry. Bruce Wayne gets amnesia and performs slave labor with countless other prisoners. Luckily, there's a happy ending.
Read My Lips
A Bullet For Bullock
Ever praise Christopher Nolan for making his Dark Knight trilogy "crime films"? You better put some respect on Batman: TAS's name. "A Bullet For Bullock" is basically a corrupt cop picture in a superhero cartoon's clothing. How on earth could a child appreciate this episode's maturity? We're not sure, but we're glad the show's creators went for it.
This episode introduces Mary Louise Dahl, aka Baby-Doll. She's a child actor who suffers from hypoplasia. Her body stopped physically aging at age 5. As she arrested her other developments, she turned to crime. In other words, she brutalizes people with a cute voice and grin. The finale is unrelentingly grim. Baby-Doll empties a clip into a funhouse mirror reflecting what could have been.
Be A Clown
If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?
When you think of The Riddler, you probably think of Jim Carrey hamming it up in Batman Forever. But we think the Batman: TAS depiction is his most arresting. Edward Nygma plots a very grown-up plan of revenge, corporate sabotage, and greed. The finale is gritty and ambiguous, with a closing image of someone (won't spoil who) frozen in fear.
I Am The Night
Feat Of Clay
Can we get pretentious for a sec? "Two-Face" is Batman: TAS's take on a Greek tragedy. Harvey Dent is a fundamentally good person with one flaw: an unhinged, anger-prone split personality. We then watch, alongside Batman, as this flaw consumes Dent. He transforms into the chance-obsessed titular character. The episode also dives into dissections of toxic masculinity and mental health.
The Clock King
Time is the great equalizer. It comes after us with unrelenting speed and efficiency. Temple Fugate, the Clock King in question, learns this the hard way. Beyond being a villain, he's a man driven to insanity just because he was late. His screams are unshakable.
Christmas With The Joker
Merry Christmas, everyone! What did Batman: TAS get you? A horrifying holiday episode. The Joker-hosted "Christmas special" features kidnapping and attempted murder. Although, if we're being real? The scariest part of this episode is Bruce Wayne not liking It's A Wonderful Life. That's a classic, dude.
Appointment In Crime Alley
If you had the chance to destroy a place that brought you nothing but heartbreak, would you take it? Or would you try and turn it into something positive? Batman reckons with this impossible quandary in "Appointment In Crime Alley". The morally bankrupt businessman Roland Daggett announces his plan to eradicate Crime Alley. The episode ends with an image equal parts devastating and hopeful.
Beware The Gray Ghost
Nothing To Fear
"I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!" This line is iconic. It sums up the Caped Crusader's whole deal with poetic, macho efficiency. And guess what? It comes from "Nothing To Fear". In one of the series' most potent moments, Scarecrow's fear toxin causes Bruce to hallucinate his father telling him he's a failure.
Perchance To Dream
What if Bruce Wayne wasn't Batman? What if he was just a normal rich dude whose parents didn't get murdered? In "Perchance To Dream", Bruce gets to live out this fantasy momentarily. He then realizes the horrors of the real world are never too far away.
The Last Laugh
Ever been tickled so hard you can't stop laughing or hurting? The experience is probably akin to getting blasted by some of Joker's laughing gas. Just, you know, multiplied by a million. "The Last Laugh" explores this paradoxically smiling horror. It features the particularly ghastly image of Alfred under the gas' spell.
Heart Of Ice
Here's the crown jewel of dark Batman: TAS episodes. "Heart Of Ice" turns Mr. Freeze into a figure of staggering pathos and terrifying humanity. If someone took what you love away from you, what would you do to punish them? This question motivates both Batman and Freeze. The razor-thin margin of difference in their answer makes this episode so compelling.