Every Batman show is a product of its time. For example, The Adventures of Batman reflects DC Comics’ Silver Age, whereas BTAS would not have existed without Batman (1989).
Batman: The Animated Series is considered the best Batman animated show, with its darker and more complex tone pioneering a new era of superhero adaptations.
Every Batman animated series explores a different side of the character, and some of the best Batman stories have been told in animation form. Batman has been front and center in eight solo animated series from 1968 to 2014. This does not include other DC animated shows Batman was part of, such as Justice League or Young Justice. Even though Batman has not received a solo animated show in years, animated productions still represent a huge part of the Dark Knight’s legacy.
Batman has been DC Comics’ flagship character for a while now, which is why the Caped Crusader has starred in more animated series than any other DC hero. That is not to mention the several DC Animated Universe movies that have featured Batman in some capacity. Here is every Batman animated show, ranked from worst to best.
8 The Adventures Of Batman (1968-1969)
The Filmation cartoons are an important part of DC’s animation history, even though they were not as game-changing as the Fleischer Superman ones. Filmation’s DC cartoons include The Adventures of Batman, which reflects how the Caped Crusader was portrayed in the comics and television during the 1960s. The Adventures of Batman can be considered an extension of the 1966 Batman serial, although it featured a different cast from the live-action show. The series was a collection of 12-minute-long adventures featuring Batman, Robin, and Batgirl as they faced classic villains. A product of its time, The Adventures of Batman is a fun look at Silver Age Batman.
7 The New Adventures Of Batman (1977)
After Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends brought together several DC heroes for a series of cartoons, Filmation began to develop another show focused on Batman and Robin. Curiously, Batman and Robin were in Super Friends, meaning that two different companies were handling these characters at the same time. The New Adventures of Batman was not that much different from what the previous series or Super Friends were doing, except for the cast. Batman’s 66 stars Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their roles as Batman and Robin, respectively, for the animated show. Hearing the classic dynamic duo in an animated series makes The New Adventures of Batman quite special.
6 Beware The Batman (2013-2014)
The short-lived Beware the Batman was a show of many “firsts” in DC’s history. Beware the Batman is the first and so far only 3D-animated Batman series. Likewise, Beware the Batman remains the only Batman animated show to have an overarching storyline rather than episodic adventures. Instead of the “case-of-the-week” approach of Batman: TAS, Beware the Batman told a serialized story. Every episode led right into the next one, with villains like the League of Assassins serving as the connective tissue. Beware the Batman avoided classic Batman villains and focused on lesser-known ones, such as Anarchy and Mister Toad. This makes it one of the most unique Batman shows.
5 Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011)
Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a love letter to the Golden and Silver Age of DC Comics. Inspired by the Brave and the Bold team-up stories from the comics, the show would pair Batman with other heroes in every episode. At first, it may seem like Batman: The Brave and the Bold is too campy and far less serious than Batman: TAS. However, the show is intentionally based on earlier Batman adventures, and it features some Easter eggs that only long-time DC Comics readers will catch. A deep-dive into Batman and DC lore, The Brave and the Bold is an incredible show.
4 Batman Beyond (1999-2001)
Coming off of the success of Batman: TAS, the idea of exploring the future of that show’s timeless Gotham City was exciting. BTAS worked mostly with famous Batman characters, but Batman Beyond went for something very different. Terry McGinnis, an original character created for the show, was now Batman’s successor in a Blade Runner-style Gotham that was unlike anything from the comics. The Batman Beyond villains were mostly original creations, and even returning foes such as Bane or Mr. Freeze were reinvented. Terry was very different from Bruce, which was good for the show. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker movie, and Justice League Unlimited‘s “Epilogue” episode, continued Terry’s story.
3 The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999)
Batman: The Animated Series had concluded its original run in 1995. However, following the launch of WB Kids and the success of Superman: The Animated Series, Warner Bros. Animation decided to bring Batman back. The New Batman Adventures can be considered the same show as Batman: TAS, but there are enough differences for them to be perceived as different series. Most of the cast and crew from BTAS returned for a slightly campier series that continued to explore Batman and Gotham City’s most famous villains. This time, the focus was on the Bat Family. Now, Dick Grayson was Nightwing, Tim Drake was Robin, and Batgirl was a series regular.
The New Batman Adventures does not have as many memorable moments as BTAS. The character-driven approach that made for the best Batman:The Animated Series episodes was missing from The New Batman Adventures, which was a more action-packed show compared to the previous one. The idea was to match what Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever had done ahead of the release of Batman & Robin. Even still, The New Batman Adventures was essential to the creation of the DC Animated Universe. The show places Batman in a world where other superheroes exist, develops the members of the Bat Family, and sets the stage for crossovers like Justice League.
2 The Batman (2004-2008)
Creating a new Batman animated series while the DC Animated Universe timeline‘s Batman was still appearing in Justice League Unlimited was a very difficult task. The infamous “Bat Embargo,” during which certain characters could not appear if they were already being used somewhere else, made things even more complicated. Surprisingly, The Batman ended up being one of the best Batman animated shows of all time. The Batman‘s character designs may seem odd at first, but the series delivers some of the most interesting versions of characters like Batgirl and Robin. The Batman takes the Dark Knight in new directions while never losing track of who Bruce Wayne and Batman are.
1 Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
DC’s animation history predates Batman: The Animated Series. However, it is impossible to discuss DC’s animation legacy, and Batman’s pop culture impact in particular, without mentioning Batman: The Animated Series. BTAS would not have existed without Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), but the show had its own tone and never limited itself to what the theatrical movies were doing. Creators such as Bruce Timm and Paul Dini found the perfect balance between what could be a successful carton and a great Batman adaptation at the same time. Batman: The Animated Series was darker and more complex than any other contemporary show, making it a turning point for animation.
BTAS proved that superheroes could work in animation as well as they did in comics like Year One, not just as campy action heroes like the ones from Super Friends. Almost every Saturday morning cartoon trope was broken by Batman:The Animated Series, whose noir tone helped reinvent Batman for an entire generation. Kevin Conroy’s Batman led a fantastic cast whose performances are still associated with the Batman characters to this day. Almost 30 years after its premiere, Batman:The Animated Series remains the best Batman animated show
Batman has had amazing animated shows. Read More