8 Best DC Animated Series, Ranked

DC Comics has been prominent in movies and games, but their animated shows are where they really stand out amongst the rest.

Highlights

  • DC animated series showcases diverse heroes beyond Batman and Superman, offering complex themes and LGBTQ representation.
  • Shows like Batman: The Brave And The Bold provide humor for kids and adults, with unique team-ups and wacky adventures.
  • Batman: The Animated Series set a high standard for animated adaptations, featuring sophisticated themes and groundbreaking art.

DC superheroes have a long tradition of high-quality animated TV adaptations. DC Comics have thrived in the animated format, whether that’s in their early cartoons, the stellar years of the 90s, or even the ongoing series of animated movies that continue to thrill and adapt some of the best comics out there.

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While Marvel at one time ruled the live-action box office, DC ruled on the animated front, with many of its series winning major industry awards and accolades. Here are just a few of the very best of the DC animated series from over the years.

8
Young Justice (2010-2022)

IMDB Rating: 8.6/10

Young Justice Different Eras

  • Seasons: 4
  • Episodes: 98

Young Justice is perhaps the ideal sequel series to the original Justice League cartoon, even if only spiritually. Instead of focusing on big-name heroes like Batman or Superman, Young Justice instead relegates them to supporting roles and puts the spotlight on their underlings and sidekicks.

Robin, Aqualad, Superboy, Miss Martian, Kid Flash, and others are all given their time to shine and become heroes in their own right. The show is also known for its handling of complex themes and even featured greater LBGTQ representation and the troubles that not only heroes face, but teenagers in general.

7
Batman: The Brave And The Bold (2008-2011)

IMDB rating: 7.3/10

Batman and Batwoman in Batman: The Brave and the Bold

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episodes: 65

There are quite a number of reasons that make Batman: The Brave and the Bold compelling, not the least of which are the episodic team-ups with new characters, all presented in a tongue-in-cheek, Silver Age format. Brave and the Bold is generally considered to be a comedic show, though that comes from its heavy leaning into the wackier side of this era of comic books, though it can get serious when it wants.

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The show also never loses sight of its audience, which undoubtedly skews toward the younger side, though there’s also plenty for older crowds to enjoy. In effect, the show is perfect for both parents and their kids to watch together and learn some of the weirder parts of Batman’s mythos.

6
Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000)

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

Superman the Animated Series 25th Anniversary Cropped

  • Seasons: 4
  • Episodes: 54

After the success of Batman: The Animated Series, it was inevitable that Superman would be given his own show. Thus began the DCAU or DC Animated Universe, as Superman would feature many other DC heroes for the first time, and would even cross over with the Dark Knight himself.

Though it was following a rather dark and mature show, Superman is more lighthearted by comparison, though it still deals with mature themes on occasion. The show is also notable for how it chooses to modernize certain aspects of Superman’s origin story.

5
Harley Quinn (2019-Ongoing)

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10

Harley Quinn Valentine's Day Special Poison Ivy kissing Gotham City burning

Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special Poison Ivy kissing Gotham City burning

  • Seasons: 4 (so far)
  • Episodes: 47 (so far)

Harley Quinn’s popularity as a character has done nothing but skyrocket over the past decade. Thanks in large part to her appearances in movies and video games, 2019 saw the long-awaited debut of her very own animated series. The show itself was released on the HBO Max streaming service, which allows it to feature far more overtly adult-oriented humor than any other DC cartoon before it, poke plenty of holes at comic logic, and make R-rated jokes about beloved DC heroes and villains.

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This greater degree of freedom also allows it to take the characters in bold new (and in many cases hilarious) directions. One of the best aspects of the show is the fact it spreads more light and love on Harley and Ivy as a romantic couple. Harley Quinn is dirty, relentlessly funny, and surprisingly heartfelt all at once.

4
Batman Beyond (1999-2001)

IMDB Rating: 8.1/10

Terry McGinnis Batman Beyond DC hero

  • Seasons: 3
  • Episodes: 52

The idea of a “teenage Batman” seems like it would be unabashedly terrible, and in an alternate universe, it just might be. However, Batman Beyond is not only an absurdly good show on its own, it’s a worthy successor to Batman: The Animated Series. The series takes place 50 years after The New Batman Adventures and sees the debut of Terry McGuinness, who assumes the mantle of Batman after Bruce Wayne has grown too old to continue.

As a show set in the future, Batman Beyond sports a sleek new artistic direction heavily influenced by sci-fi films like Blade Runner, and an original rogues gallery for Terry to face off with, though he would also end up clashing with what remains of Bruce’s on many occasions. Batman Beyond proved popular enough that it was eventually incorporated into the mainstream DC Comics continuity.

3
Teen Titans (2003-2006)

IMDB Rating: 7.9/10

  • Seasons: 5
  • Episodes: 65

Blending an almost anime-inspired sense of humor with Western comic book characters seems like a long-shot idea, and yet it works out beautifully for Teen Titans. This unique style of humor is just one of the reasons for the show’s quality, however. It is also exceptionally great when it comes to character dynamics.

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The contrasting personalities of each member of the Titans are extremely well realized, and each plays off the other in a variety of different ways. This is the heart of the series, and it’s what gives it the leverage to go from a goofy and fun romp to dire when it has to.

2
Justice League / Justice League Unlimited (2001-2006)

IMDB Rating: 8.7/10

justice-league-animated-series-reunion Cropped

  • Seasons (Combined): 5
  • Episodes (Combined): 91
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While both the Batman and Superman Animated Series featured guest characters like Flash or Zatanna, even if combined, neither show featured as many characters as the two Justice League series would. The series can be broken up into two parts; Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. The former focuses on the seven core members that everyone knows, their formation, and growth as a team. However, the latter series introduces a staggering number of new characters and villains, as the League expands to global proportions.

Naturally, this raises more than a few questions about the nature of the League, its role as an organization, and whether the power it possesses is too great. It is a series that isn’t afraid to ask big questions and offer honest answers where it can, all while delivering some of the best spectacle that the DCAU ever saw, and some wonderful character work that many see as a kind of pinnacle for these characters, regardless of the medium.

1
Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)

IMDB Rating: 9/10

Batman J. J. Abrams Matt Reeves

  • Seasons: 2
  • Episodes: 85

Few animated shows have been able to forge a legacy as enduring as Batman: The Animated Series. This is the show that gave the world Harley Quinn, remade Mr. Freeze into a layered and tragic villain, and introduced the world to the titanic vocal talents of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamil (among a litany of other achievements).

Even over three decades later, the series is still considered to be such a high bar for animated comic book adaptations. It features groundbreaking artistic direction for its time and a stylistically dark atmosphere that made it a hit with both kids and adults in a way that hadn’t been seen before. Few of its contemporaries could match its animation quality alone, let alone its sophisticated themes and ideas. There is a reason the DCAU became so successful, and that is because it had the shoulders of Batman: The Animated Series to stand on.

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Fuente: successacademy.edu.vn
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