Batman month continues, my friends! As we proceed with our celebration of the greatest superhero cartoon ever made, we move towards the countdown of the best episodes featuring the supporting heroes of Gotham.
When a police sting goes bad, and Batman intervenes and disappears, Detective Harvey Bullock, Officer Renee Montoya (who would eventually become a detective later in the series) and her rookie partner Wilkes are dragged before Internal Affairs and forced to explain why it went wrong. It doesn’t help that in Gotham, it’s always a possibility for a cop to be corrupt. So we see the failed bust from the three perspectives, with Bullock lying to cover up that he went in early (his narration is a lie, but the visuals show the truth), Wilkes in awe of what he saw with Batman (we see Batman simply using gadgets, but for the rookie in the dark, it looked like Batman has super powers) and Montoya simply telling it as she saw it (the closest to the truth). While this is a great episode for how people see Batman, it’s on this list for showing what it’s like to be an honest cop in Gotham, with a special note for Montoya stealing the show. A strong start to our list.
7. A Bullet for Bullock
Throughout the animated series franchise, there’s been one cop that fans often looked at as a funny, yet obnoxious character: Detective Harvey Bullock. Bullock’s a slob, he’s rough around the edges, and he often seems like a hypocrite given how he often tries to bend the rules but is against Batman for being a vigilante. Yet somehow, he’s one of Gordon’s most trusted cops, and Bullock’s loyal to the Commissioner. In this episode, someone’s threatened Bullock’s life, and given his past, and all the toes he’s stepped on (both criminal and civilian), it’s hard to narrow down the list. So, Bullock asks Batman for help. It’s a fun little look at the life of one of Gotham’s cops whose efforts to help the city often seemed overshadowed by the Dark Knight. And the revelation of who is threatening Bullock is too fun to spoil here.
6. Sins of the Father
This episode from the final season was the introduction of the second Robin, Tim Drake. Two-Face is chasing the kid, because Tim’s father, a henchman of the villain, stole from him. This ends up leading Tim to be rescued by Batman, and as the investigation into Tim’s father’s whereabouts proceed, we see the street kid become the new Robin. This was a great episode, showing us why Batman chose to take this child in as his new ward and sidekick, as well as merge both Jason Todd and Tim Drake from the comics into one character.
5. The Lion and the Unicorn
Alfred’s past returns to him as he finds out an old colleague of his from his spy days calls him for help. As Alfred returns to England, Bruce and Dick follow. We get to see how Alfred can handle himself, despite his age, his ability to withstand truth serum when a terrorist tries to get his passcode from him, and how much Batman and Robin need him to help them out.
4. Over the Edge
People are going to say I shouldn’t use this one on the list, since it’s more alternate what-if, but I think this is a great Gordon episode. It starts with Batgirl being knocked off a building by Scarecrow and dying in front of her father. Gordon, angry that Batman never told him that his daughter was Batgirl, declares war on the Batman family. It’s tense and action-packed as Gordon invades the Batcave, captures Nightwing, and even makes a deal with Bane to bring down the Dark Knight. It’s a shocker of an episode that everyone should see.
3. Old Wounds
One night, after taking down some criminals, the new Robin, Tim, asks Dick Grayson, who in this final season became Nightwing, what happened between him and Batman that led to him quitting. What follows is a flashback tale of Dick’s growing resentment of Bruce’s cold and manipulative ways, as well as how Barbara Gordon became an official part of the Bat team. It’s a great story of the Bat Family as a whole, from beginning to surprisingly touching end.
2. Batgirl Returns
Barbara Gordon initially appeared in the 2-part episode Heart of Steel, as well as becoming Batgirl in the 2 parter Shadow of the Bat. But while those are great episodes with her in it, this is by far the best one focusing on her. After her initial adventure as Batgirl, Barbara is eager to try it again. When Catwoman attempts a break-in, only to be framed for a crime she didn’t commit, Batgirl teams up with the criminal. What follow is a story showcasing Batgirl’s best traits, justifying not only fans’ love of her, but her addition as a main character in the final season.
1. Robin’s Reckoning
Dick Grayson has always been a fan favorite, both as Robin and Nightwing. But from the animated series, this 2-part episode is THE Dick Grayson story. After a run-in with some crooks trying to sabotage a building, Batman recognizes the name of their boss, and pulls rank on Robin, telling him to sit this one out. Dick does some digging, and discovers that the name of the boss is an alias for Tony Zucco, the man who killed Dick’s parents by sabotaging their trapeze line. The story then divides itself between the past and the present. In the past, we see Dick’s time with his parents, their deaths at the hands of Zucco, his adoption by Bruce, Batman’s hunt for the criminal, and the inevitable moment where Bruce reveals his secret to his young ward. In the present, we watch as Batman tracks down Zucco, with Robin in hot pursuit. Will Robin get his revenge? You’ll have to watch it and see in the best supporting cast episode.
While supporting heroes are all well and good, we always watch Batman for the villains. So check this space next time for the best villain episodes of the animated series!