Batman: The Animated Series is as close to a perfect television show there is. rom the dark deco production style, to the fact that it gave us the definitive Batman and Joker duo in Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, Batman: The Animated Series remains the benchmark for animated comic book adaptations. One aspect of the show that sets it apart from other animated comic book adaptations was the show's treatment of its villains. From changing their backstory, having a rock-solid performance, and even creating its own, Batman: The Animated Series truly let the villains steal the show in most episodes. Here are the top 10 villains from Batman: The Animated Series.
Spoilers from multiple episodes of Batman: The Animated Series ahead.
First appearing in the episode "Nothing to Fear," Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow kicks off this list. His characterization on the show is mostly similar to the comics, albeit he is given a British accent. He goes around Gotham spreading a fear toxin with a vendetta against Gotham University. Scarecrow's fear toxin isn't enough to get the upper hand on Batman. The best thing about Scarecrow? In a confrontation while under the effects of his toxin that we get the classic line:
Kirk Langstrom, a.k.a. Man-Bat, was the villain of "On Leather Wings," the very first episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Flying around the skies of Gotham, Man-Bat goes around stealing chemicals while getting mistaken for Batman. Man-Bat isn't Batman's most daunting foe, but he and "On Leather Wings" go a long way into establishing the tone of the series, including showing off the dark deco art style during their fight over the Gotham.
8. Ventriloquist / Scarface
Ventriloquist/Scarface may be the strangest and most disturbing villain on Batman: the Animated Series. Tracking down a robber after a string of thefts, Batman comes upon an empty warehouse full of mannequins, the Dark Knight discovers that Scarface is actually a dummy, controlled by Arnold Wesker, a.k.a. Ventriloquist. Batman fighting their split personalities throughout the episode "Read My Lips," which is one of the series' darker and more violent due to the producers being able to depict violence against mannequins the network would not allow them to show against humans.
Holy Spoilers Batman! Below lie spoilers for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
OK, so Phantasm technically isn't from Batman: The Animated Series, but might as well be, considering the two share a universe (and Phantasm is really just a long episode of the show anyway). Phantasm, an original character to the film, is one of Batman's more mysterious villains. To complicate things for Batman even further, his old flame Andrea Beaumont comes back to town, and her father's former associates start getting killed at the hands of the mysterious Phantasm. Well, turns out they are the same person. Phantasm is one of Batman's more interesting villains, as she shows how Batman could have turned out — as a violent killer.
Riddler/Edward Nygma is Batman's most frustrating villains (the Arkham video game series is proof of this), and Batman: The Animated Series is no different in depicting him this way. Whether it be trapping Commissioner Gordon in a virtual reality world, creating inescapable deathtraps, or getting released from Arkham Asylum due to good behavior, Riddler always thinks he can get the upper hand on Batman. However, the Caped Crusader thwarts his plans and leaves him angry, confused at how Batman solved his riddles. The episode "What is Reality?" is one of Batman: The Animated Series' must-watch episodes, and features the aforementioned trapping of Commissioner Gordon in virtual reality.
5. Ra's al Ghul
Ra's al Ghul has always been one of Batman's hardest villains to get a read on, and his depiction in Batman: the Animated Series is no different. Whereas other villains do the whole crime thing for personal gain, Ra's is in it for the cleansing of the world (and he's kind of immortal). In the two-part episode "The Demon's Quest," Ra's wants Batman to become his heir and get rid of humanity for the protection of the planet. Not going to spoil anything about this episode (which is definitely worth the watch), Ra's al Ghul is definitely quite the match for Batman. Don't believe it? Check out the clip below:
4. Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn, a.k.a. Dr. Harleen Quinzel, is Batman: The Animated Series' gift to the world. Unlike most of Batman's enduring Rogues Gallery, Harley Quinn did not originate in the comic books. Instead, Harley Quinn's first appearance was in "Joker's Favor" as the Clown Prince's girlfriend. Her harlequin inspired costume and off-puddin' voice cemented her as a fan favorite, leading to her status as not only one of Batman's most popular villains, but as one of DC Comic's most popular characters in general.
Two-Face, a.k.a. former Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent, is perhaps the most fulfilled character on the show. Batman: The Animated Series gives us Harvey's full arc. When first we see him, he is DA, and only later in "Two-Face" does the left side of his body get scarred, until he undergoes cosmetic surgery to fix his face later in the series. One of Two-Face's best episodes on the series is "Almost Got 'Im'," which shows different villains telling stories about how they almost defeated Batman while playing a poker game.
2. The Joker
The Clown Prince of Crime himself comes in at No. 2. Batman's perfect adversary, this version of the Joker is THE Joker for most fans. From his gags, to his attempts on Batman's life, to the chaos he instilled everywhere around him, the Joker and Batman on Batman: The Animated Series go together like peanut butter and jelly. Who could forget the holiday classic "Christmas with the Joker," which gave us the classic rendition of "Jingle Bells," known to Bat-fans and non Bat-fans alike? Not only is it one of the best episodes of this show, it is one of the best holiday episodes of any show, period. Plus, this is where it all started for Mark Hamill as the Joker. Forget Luke Skywalker, the Joker is Mark Hamill's career defining role.
1. Mr. Freeze
Believe it or not, the Joker is not the best villain of Batman: The Animated Series. You want to know why? Because it is Mr. Freeze, for a multitude of reasons. To start things off, the writers of the show changed his backstory in order to make him a tragic villain, a goal in which they succeeded. Victor Fries's new backstory of stealing from Gothcorp in order to find a cure for his dying wife Nora has become the accepted origin of Mr. Freeze. On top of that, Michael Ansara's haunting voice gives me the chills, and the animators nailed his look, complete with red goggles and domed helmet. His debut in the series, "Heart of Ice" (which won an Emmy) is one of the best episodes of the show. It would be cold to list Mr. Freeze as anything but the best villain of Batman: The Animated Series.
"I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it. I cannot. I can only beg for your forgiveness, and pray you hear me somehow, someplace... someplace where a warm hand waits for mine." — Mr. Freeze, 'Heart of Ice'
These villains were enough to inspire Batman to write his own song, which you can hear in the video below:
Who is your favorite villain from Batman: The Animated Series? Is there a villain you think should be on here but isn't? Tell me in the comments!