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The Top 5 Greatest Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series

If you're reading this then chances are you're more than likely interested in a 21 year old animated series. Well great! Because we're going be discussing it here and it'd be really uncomfortable if you didn't much care for the material. Batman: The Animated Series had a powerful impact on my childhood as well as those creating now. There are tons of people in the comics industry directly influenced by the Emmy award winning show. It was not only an entertaining animated TV show, it was milestone in comic book history. Below you'll find my list of the greatest episodes of the series -- excluding the movies, both theatrical and made-for-TV -- some of which count as the best comic book stories ever told.

5. Two-Face Part 1 & 2

Written by Kevin Altieri One of the great things about the show is that it took time to build the characters. Harvey Dent existed in the show long before Two-Face made his appearance. It added weight to the tragic downfall from trusted DA to psychotic villain. The episode follows Harvey Dent and his issues controlling his anger -- a problem than manifests as another personality, "Bad Harv". He has kept it under raps, but the stress of running for DA is starting to crack his cool persona. Things come to a head when kingpin Rupert Thorne attempts to blackmail him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqGup4UGS_A I think the best thing about this series, that the clip above exemplifies, is that it never pulled any punches. Two-Face doesn't learn his lesson at the end, he'd gladly fall to his death. He's not better as the episode closes, just locked away. I don't know if you can get away with that now, or maybe people are just too scared to try.

4. House & Garden

Written by Paul Dini I don't think Poison Ivy's character gets as much attention as she deserves, and because of that this episode doesn't get enough love. It seems Ivy is mostly cast as a seductress, an excuse to dress her as little as possible. However, I feel she's a tragic figure on the level of Two-Face or Mr. Freeze. Her crippling love of nature has made her into some kind of twisted terrorist. She's not natural born killer, or sadistic, she's just fighting for what she believes in against perceived evils. I think there is no other story that better shows this than this episode. In it, Ivy is released from Arkham and seems to have gone legit. She's married and, somehow, with kids. Batman can't shake his suspicion however, and is driven to investigate. I don't want to show anything from the episode, because it's filled with such twists and turns that I don't want to spoil anything. Trust me, it's worth it.

3. Mad Love

Written by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="486"] There is no title card, we're going to have to settle.[/caption] One of the most famous episodes in the show's run, it's based off of the comic book of the same name written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. It's an episode that plays on many levels. It defines the relationship between Joker and Harley, it shows Harley's true intelligence and capability, as well weaving a touching and tragic love story. Also, it's one of the episodes that Batman barely appears in, something else I think you'd have trouble getting away with these days. The episode tells the story of Harley, slighted for the last time, and her quest to do what Joker never could: kill Batman. It also, for the first time in the show, shows us Harley's origin through a series of flashbacks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOdLFbgjHs4

2. Heart of Ice

Written by Paul Dini Trivia fact for those who might not know. Mr. Freeze, before BTAS, was not a popular villain. B-List at best. Originally called Mr. Zero, he was campy -- committing hilarious cold-themed crimes -- and, mostly, a joke character. By the time BTAS rolled around, he was teetering on the precipice of obscurity. This episode retconned his origin, adding in his obsession with curing his terminally ill wife Nora and transforming him into maybe the most tragic hero in the Rogues Gallery. It was a move that not only made the character both serious and popular, but also changed the canon back story of the character in the comics. The episode follows Batman as he attempts to stop Mr. Freeze from destroying irreplaceable items. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VfVTWGwLFo That was a Saturday morning cartoon, everybody. Wake up, eat cereal, listen to the frozen, emotionless man say,  "think of it, Batman. To never again walk on a summer's day with the hot wind in your face and a warm hand to hold. Oh yes, I'd kill for that."

1. Over the Edge

Written by Paul Dini This episode still gets me, despite the fact that I've seen it multiple times. It's one of the saddest Batman stories ever told. You think "well this can't get any worse" then it does. Over and over again. Written by Paul Dini as "the last Batman story ever told" it answers an age old question: who is Batman's most formidable foe? The Joker? Ras Al Ghul? Nope... it's Commissioner Gordon. Possessing both a keen tactical mind and an intimate knowledge of Batman's methods, Gordon systematically takes apart Batman's operation and uncovers secret after secret. It's heartbreaking to watch. After Batgirl falls to her death during a rooftop fight, the episode Gordon as he hunts down Batman in order to bring him to justice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDvkQ-NNF5c It's amazing no one got complaints on this. This episode is heavy and not just a kid's show heavy. At one point Bane challenges Batman to a fight to the death and Batman replies "it doesn't matter any more"! And then he kills him! Yes! What?! Yes! This episode is unforgettable. I'd rank it among the best comic book stories of any medium. Even if you haven't watched the animated series, you have to see this episode. THAT'S why it tops this list. BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU? Leave your top five below, but if any of them are "There's a Batman in my Basement" you'll be automatically discredited. What? They can't all be gold.


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