If you grew up in the 90s, then you know a thing or two about Saturday morning cartoons. While there was no shortage of classic offerings, one show would stand out from the rest and cement itself as the greatest cartoon out of the bunch. That cartoon was Batman: The Animated Show (TAS). This was no ordinary cartoon, as it featured a sleek neo-noir art style and story lines that were exciting for kids but mature enough for adults.
This show was the true Batman adaptation everyone was waiting for, and no other show featuring the Dark Knight has ever come close. Batman TAS fired all the right bat cylinders during its run (1992-1995) and shall remain the greatest cartoon show from the 90s for the following reasons.
The Opening Was Epic
Batman: The Animated Series was captivating from the start. The opening featured two banking-robbing silhouettes being chased by the police. They manage to evade the cops by going up a rooftop, only to be met by another fast-moving, bat-like silhouette that proceeds to beat them to a pulp, leaving them tied up for the police to find. We then see this dark silhouette standing on a rooftop, staring into the distance, when a lightning flash reveals it is the Batman himself. Epic!
Batman was at His Best
The show gave us one aspect of Batman that is missing even in the Dark Knight Trilogy, which is the fact that he is not all brawn. Batman had brains in the series and was considered to be a great detective by foes like Ra’s al Ghul. He wasn’t all fancy gadgets and cool automobiles; he was also a terrifying ninja whose brain was as dangerous as his fists. That is the Batman from the Detective Comics that people had grown to love over the years brought to life.
The Animation was Fantastic
The animation team gave us a dark and gritty version of Batman and Gotham that is impressive from a technical standpoint. Everything about the art style from Tim Burton was perfect and has become timeless. The animation featured a neo-noir art style called “Dark Deco,” and it was gorgeous and alluring to see the world of Batman rendered in such as impressive light. It was also extremely fluid, and even though it doesn’t use modern-day animation techniques (like motion blur), it still beats the animation we see today.
The Storylines Were Mature
How the writers were able to turn a dark and brooding figure like Batman into a Saturday morning icon is nothing short of writing sophistry. Plus, some of the scenarios the characters would find themselves in raised some eyebrows, making people wonder if it was truly a children’s cartoon show. Some episodes like “Robin’s Reckoning”, “Two-Face”, and “Heart of Steel” are the standout episodes that didn’t shy away from mature subject matter, such as tragedy, horror and death. But don’t worry, the stories weren’t too dark.
The Voice Acting was Top-Notch
No Batman article is complete without mentioning The Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime stole the show from the start and was voiced by Mark Hamill (yes, Luke Skywalker himself), whose voice was as chilling as it was cheerful. One important aspect the show introduced was the Batman voice, which was done perfectly by Kevin Conroy (not even Christian Bale could beat this, even though he tried).
We Met Harley Quinn
Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel was an ordinary psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Gotham’s home for the criminally insane, until she met The Joker. Where the entire world saw a madman, the good doctor saw her soul mate, and she became his murderous lover and sidekick – she became Harley Quinn. Once she was introduced, fans went wild, and she is now one of the most iconic characters in the DC universe.
Batman TAS was a special package from start to finish. Great animation, performances, characters and stories were the mainstay of this cartoon for its entire run. You would be hard pressed to find any other cartoon show from the 90s – even today – that blended these elements so well.