Over the past half century, Batman has had a significant presence in nearly every form of media, from comics to TV shows to movies to video games, each of which offer their own, sometimes conflicting interpretation of the DC hero. But one of the most enduringly beloved iterations of the Dark Knight is the one that appears in Batman: The Animated Series from the early ‘90s. The newest episode of “Animation Investigation” from Nerdist examines not only why this particular Batman property was so damn good but how it influenced the Batman franchise for years to come.

You could probably dedicate an entire video series to talking about this show’s masterful storytelling and deft use of tone. Hell, you could spend a few episodes on Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill’s voice acting alone. Instead, Nerdist chose to do a rapid-fire rundown of all the great things The Animated Series contributed to the Batman canon, like the heartbreaking backstory of Mr. Freeze’s terminally ill wife Nora Fries and the introduction of the character Harley Quinn. Obviously the latter has had a huge impact on the franchise, with Quinn making appearances in countless comics, movies, and cosplay competitions since her animated debut.

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But more than just introduce characters to further flesh out the world of Gotham, The Animated Series took the time to give their heroes and villains compelling, emotional narratives that gave audiences a reason to care about the shades of gray in a traditional good guy-bad guy plot. That’s why the creatives in charge of Batman properties over the years have continued to call back to the early ‘90s animated world, and it’s why fans still hold it up as the cream of the crop.

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