(Screenshot: YouTube)

It’s difficult to imagine a world without Batman. The caped crusader has been fighting crime since 1939, and he doesn’t appear to be retiring any time soon. Bruce Wayne’s alter ego is a massive cultural icon, with numerous comics, television shows, video games, toys, and films under his belt. Throughout the years, the character has been portrayed in a variety of ways—campy, dashing, gritty (or an amalgam of all three)—by many incredible actors. But, often overlooked by casual fans, is the fact that modern-day Batman is arguably most influenced by the pivotal voice acting, writing, and directing of Batman: The Animated Series.

In a new video essay, Kristian Williams explores exactly how Batman: The Animated Series affected every adaptation that followed. The YouTuber points out that “the animated series was airing at a time when the films were becoming progressively more and more cartoony and over-the-top, while ironically, the cartoon took a grounded, more serious approach to the material.” He also references episodes like “Heart Of Ice,” which won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program, for the “greatest example of a sympathetic villain done right” and displaying that the Dark Knight is “not just trying to beat supervillains—he’s trying to save these victims of mental illness and obsession.”

Other noteworthy parts of the seven-minute video include segments on the supreme voice acting of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, the show’s dark visuals, and the outstanding character design. Closing out the video, Williams claims that the series is “not just one of the best portrayals of Batman, it’s one of the best pieces of animation of all time.”