We have seen a number of great animated series over the years, but the character who has arguably appeared the most in animation is none other than DC Comics' Batman. The Dark Knight has been appearing in animated form since 1968, where he appeared alongside Robin the Boy Wonder in Filmation's Superman animated shorts.
His appearance there launched an almost unending presence on television that has seen numerous different iterations of the Batman and his mythology explored in different ways. Today we are going to take a look at these various versions of the animated Dark Knight and see who comes out on top in a battle of animated Batmen.
12 BATMAN UNLIMITED
Batman Unlimited's animated adventures were geared more towards younger children and the production of toys to coincide with the various films. Batman is voiced by Roger Craig Smith, who reprised this role for the release of Batman Ninja.
Batman Unlimited gets points for including Bat-family members like Nightwing and Red Robin, but the blatant toy-driven storylines and characters introduced in films like Batman Unlimited: Monsters Unleashed and Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants keep this Light Knight low on the list.
11 BEWARE THE BATMAN
Beware the Batman was a fully computer-animated show that lasted for only one season. The series focused on the very early years of Bruce Wayne's career as Batman (voiced by Anthony Ruivivar) and featured Alfred and DC hero Katana working alongside Batman.
The series failed to hit with audiences and was pulled mid-season from Cartoon Network's broadcasting schedule, leading to its cancellation. While Beware the Batman didn't measure up to its predecessors, it did feature a unique cast of villains not seen before in animation.
10 JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION
Justice League Action was basically a mashup between Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. DC's trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are joined throughout the series by a rotating cast of JL members on various family-friendly missions.
While Justice League Action featured a slightly lighter take on the Dark Knight, it still managed to capture the essence of what makes Batman appealing to all ages. Plus Batman was again voiced by the legendary Kevin Conroy, but more on him later.
9 SUPER FRIENDS
We already briefly touched on Batman's earliest animated appearances on the Filmation Superman shorts, which soon carried over into the iconic Super Friends animated series. Super Friends debuted in 1973 and aired until 1986 over a few different related titles.
Batman and Robin were joined by Superman, Wonder Woman, and a varying roster of Justice League members and some created specifically for the show. These versions of Batman and Robin, loosely-based on TV's dynamic duo Adam West and Burt Ward, would also star in two New Scooby-Doo Movies.
8 ASSAULT ON ARKHAM
When Batman: Assault on Arkham was first released, it brought a new yet familiar version of Batman to the DC Animated Universe in this medium-crossing feature-length film. While Assault on Arkham was mostly a Suicide Squad film, it was set in the video game world first seen in the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game franchise.
Batman was voiced by Kevin Conroy in the Arkham games, and he reprised that role for the animated film as well. Mark Hamill also returned to voice his version of the Joker, which has become as iconic as Conroy's interpretation of the Batman.
7 LEGO BATMAN
LEGO has released a few different games that have included their blocky version of Batman, but it was the version first seen in The LEGO Movie who makes this list. Rarely is the tragedy of the Batman used for comedic effect, but The LEGO Batman Movie managed to make that work, while also breathing new life into the adventures of Batman and Robin.
This was largely due to the comedic pairing of Will Arnett's Batman with his former Arrested Development costar, Michael Cera as Robin.
6 DC UNIVERSE ANIMATED BATMAN
Warner Bros. Animation began releasing feature-length animated films back in 2007, which featured original stories mixed with animated adaptations of comic storylines. This meant that fans were finally able to see a number of amazing Batman stories adapted into feature-length movies, including hits like Batman: Under the Red Hood and Batman: The Killing Joke.
It's hard to pick a specific animated Batman out of these adaptations considering they are so rooted in the source material, but they rate high among the other animated versions nonetheless.
5 THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is technically a part of the DC Animated Universe we discussed above, but deserves its own entry for a number of reasons. Not only did it successfully adapt Frank Miller's iconic The Dark Knight Returns for the animated universe, it in some ways improved upon the original source material while still staying loyal to Miller's original vision.
The two-part release also featured former RoboCop Peter Weller as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman in another perfect example of great voice casting.
4 THE BATMAN
The Batman is still largely unappreciated by Bat-fans, though it was actually quite successful and ran for five seasons. The series featured a modernized take on Batman (voiced by Rino Romano) and his rogues' gallery, while also revamping the origins of fellow Batfamily members like Batgirl and Robin.
While the new character designs may have put off some fans, the dedication to the core values of the character, his mission, and the people he allows into that mission were all perfectly represented in the series.
3 BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD
While it's easy to jump on Batman adaptations for depicting the character too lightly, that's not the case with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. The series was based on a more campy-version of the hero and featured other Silver Age renditions of popular DC heroes, but it wore its heart on its sleeve and celebrated its love for the characters with each and every episode.
Diedrich Bader voiced the Dark Knight in Batman: TBATB and is set to reprise the role for the upcoming Harley Quinn animated series on DC Universe.
2 BATMAN BEYOND
That's right, one of the best animated Batmans ever wasn't even Bruce Wayne. Sure, Bruce Wayne featured heavily in Batman Beyond, which takes place in a future Gotham City, but the real star of the show is new Batman Terry McGuinness, who wore an updated yet simplistic costume and drove a sleek new Batmobile while training under an elderly Wayne.
The sleek animated style, inspired by the artwork of Darwyn Cooke, makes Terry and Batman Beyond almost the best animated Batman we've ever seen.
1 BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
In no surprise to anyone, the best animated Batman is still, without argument, Batman: The Animated Series. The series was revolutionary in animated circles for its unique darker designs and adult themes and dove into the Batman mythology to re-examine what made Batman and his villains tick.
Batman: TAS not only introduced superstar characters like Harley Quinn, but it also added much-needed depth to villains like Mr. Freeze, whose introductory "Heart of Ice" episode redefined the character across all mediums. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill famously voiced Batman and Joker, respectively, and have continued to voice the characters for the last few years.