Batman: The Animated Series Turns 20

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5. David Warner as Ra’s al Ghul

Ra’s al Ghul, the immortal leader of the Society of Shadows, needed a voice that matched his royal and calculating nature, as well as his unabashed ruthlessness. David Warner, with his history of playing villains, was an excellent choice. He manages to capture the essence of Ra’s al Ghul, this man who is driven to do whatever is necessary to uphold his beliefs. Warner’s performance made us believe that Ra’s really is Batman’s most powerful enemy.

Key Episodes: “The Demon’s Quest Parts 1 & 2”, “Avatar”, “Showdown”

4. John Glover as The Riddler

The Riddler was an especially important voice for the series, since he, more than any other villain, fights with his words, not his fists. John Glover was a perfect fit for the role, delivering the unbridled arrogance that is such a key facet of the Riddler’s character. Where the Joker is always in it for the punch line, the laugh, the Riddler’s game is to prove that he is the best and the smartest. Glover’s portrayal adds an extra layer to that: Nygma already knows he’s smarter than everyone else and the Riddler persona is how he shows off his intellect to the world.

Key Episodes: “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?”, “What Is Reality?” “Riddler’s Reform”

3. Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn

Originally conceived as a minor character, Harley Quinn quickly became a fan favorite in Batman TAS, working her way into the comic book canon and earning a permanent place in Batman’s Rogues Gallery. Arleen Sorkin literally brought the character to life, providing the inspiration for creator Paul Dini, who incorporated aspects of Sorkin’s own personality into the character. Sorkin’s voice work as Harley is phenomenal, making Harley one of Batman’s most menacing foes while also maintaining her as a sympathetic character.

Key Episodes: “Mad Love”, “Harley & Ivy”, “Harlequinade”

2. Mark Hamill as The Joker

When I close my eyes and try to imagine the Joker, the first thing that pops into my head isn’t an image; it’s the laugh. Specifically, it’s Mark Hamill’s echoing cackle. For me, that IS the Joker. Even more than Heath Ledger’s iconic take on the character, I will always think of Hamill’s version as the truest incarnation of the Joker. He is manic and moody and insane and frankly pure genius. Not to mention freaking hilarious.

Key Episodes: “Christmas with the Joker”, “The Last Laugh”, “Be a Clown”, “Joker’s Favor”, “Joker’s Wild”, “Joker’s Millions”

1. Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman

Like Hamill with the Joker, for me, Kevin Conroy IS Batman. That is the voice I hear in my head when I read the comics. Conroy was the first actor to use two different voices for Batman and Bruce Wayne, something that has changed the way every Batman since has approached the character. His voice work is so good even I sometimes forgot that Bruce Wayne was Batman.

His performance had just enough darkness and pain, going right up to the line for a kids’ show. At the same time, it is that pain that makes his lighter moments more believable, for no one can live in the shadows all the time.

In all of the animated versions of the character that have come since Batman TAS, Conroy has been my gold standard, and to date there hasn’t been an actor yet who has topped him.

Key Episodes: All of them.

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