DC Comics is currently celebrating the return of one of their most popular and dynamic series with season three of Harley Quinn released on HBO Max. This is just one example of the groundbreaking work being done in animation and the next in a long history of groundbreaking animated series in DC.
Some of the best are part of the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) – a collection of various series stretching from 1992 to 2005 with movies in between – or they are independent shows with a distinct and entertaining flair. Out of all the different animated series, these are considered the best according to IMDb users.
10 Teen Titans – 7.9
While Justice League is rightfully DC Comics’ most popular team, the Teen Titans are often close behind them. Such is the case for DC’s animated shows, with Teen Titans rank high among them. It features the classic team of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy in many of their groundbreaking images.
It ran for five seasons on Cartoon Network – which is a remarkable achievement considering that most animation programs aimed at a younger audience don’t last that long. Even after the series finale in 2006, it was followed by the movie Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo and the still ongoing spin-off Teen Titans go!. While it’s largely for kids, it still touches on deeper and darker topics, which makes it really fun for all audiences.
9 Green Lantern: The Animated Series – 8.0
While Teen Titans ran for five years, some of the best DC series lasted no more than a season, as is the case for Green Lantern: the animated series. Unlike other shows, Green Lantern: the animated series uses a CGI and 3D design.
Nevertheless, it has a very respectable ranking and gives one of the most complete story depictions of not only the Green Lanterns, but the other Lantern Corps as well – an approach to be applied to the DCEU when these characters finally arrive. Interestingly, the end of Green Lantern: the animated series is left ambiguous but eventually finds closure a decade later in young justice when Razer – an original creation of the show – returns with a blue power ring next to his red ring.
8 Superman: The Animated Series – 8.1
Superman: the animated series was the second series in the creation of the DCAU and ran for four seasons in the late 1990s. There have been many animated Superman TV shows over the years, but this one takes the cake as the top-rated among them — probably in part because of its interconnectedness and inclusion of characters from across the DC Comics universe.
Tim Daly voiced Superman throughout the series and subsequent projects, most recently the animated film Justice League: Doom. It received numerous Emmy nominations during its run and was praised for its dedication to Superman’s extensive source material and appeal to a wider audience.
7 Batman Beyond – 8.1
Batman Beyond is quite an interesting show, as if it is set in the DCAU universe, the show is a completely original project with a completely new protagonist. Set in the future, it stars Terry McGinnis as the new Batman, taking over from an older Bruce Wayne who has been hidden for decades. This allowed for new interpretations of various heroes and villains, who told stories not yet seen in the comics.
Batman Beyond took an even darker approach to the story than other shows at the DCAU. Right now, there’s a plethora of live-action Batman between Ben Affleck, Michael Keaton and Robert Pattinson’s portraits this year and in the future. Therefore, the DCEU could look at a variation of the character by introducing Terry McGinnis, although there are other iconic related characters, such as Nightwing or Red Hood, that might fit better first.
6 The New Batman Adventures – 8.4
Batman Beyond is actually the third Batman-centered series in the DCAU. before it was The new Batman adventures, who chose to pay more attention to his allies, Nightwing, Batgirl and Robin. It was released simultaneously with: Superman: the animated series and featured updated animations and character designs, connecting its predecessor Batman: the animated series for the future of the DCAU.
It only did that for one season before it was decided to take a bigger creative risk – it certainly paid off – by creating Batman Beyond. It may not be as good as Batman: the animated seriesbut it’s still quite entertaining, which is why it’s highly rated.
5 Harley Quinn – 8.5
Harley Quinn is an extremely interesting character. She’s become one of DC Comics’ most popular characters and a mainstay in so many different stories, but it might come as a surprise that she’s actually an original creation of Batman: the animated series. Nevertheless, her characterization and compelling arcs helped Harley Quinn has become one of DC’s most beloved animated series.
The animation style, the violent, yet incredibly humorous tone, and the impeccable voice acting are why fans are so excited about the third season that recently premiered on HBO Max. There’s even more to look forward to since a spin-off, Noonan’s is in the works, following the lead of breakthrough star Kite-Man. Hopefully this kind of expansion will continue as there are other prominent characters who would be worthy of their own series in the Harley Quinn animated universe.
4 Justice League – 8.6
The numerous individual series in the DCAU eventually culminated in Justice League. In the show, the titular team consisted of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter, and it features many episodes that focus on each one individually, along with them and all the variations of groupings in between.
Bringing all these characters together, the show also allowed for the introduction of countless iconic villains – several of whom fans hope will be brought to the DCEU for the future Justice League movies.
3 Justice League Unlimited – 8.7
After two years Justice League was allowed to evolve exponentially by creating Justice League Unlimited, featuring an extensive selection of Justice League. Some of the best new recruits include Green Arrow, Captain Atom, Supergirl and Zatanna – who would also make great additions to the DCEU in the future. Like many of the shows at the DCAU, Justice League Unlimited is loved by all types of viewers.
Although it is built on a decade of stories starting with Batman: the animated series, it was still very open and welcoming to a new audience. That’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, as it’s an element missing from many current franchises, including the DCEU and especially the MCU.
2 Young Justice – 8.7
2010 young justice premiered on Cartoon Network, filling the void left by both Justice League and Teen Titans. Fans absolutely love it for its animation style, mature tone, and intricate storylines, but in 2013, after its second season, it was canceled. Despite this, it maintained its popularity and developed a devoted cult following, and a third season was announced in 2016. Most recently, the fourth season ended on HBO Max, and while there’s no news for a fifth, there’s a lot of hope – mainly based on where it left off.
young justice started with the team of Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Superboy, Miss Martian and Artemis – with Zatanna and Rocket later in season 1. The characters have gone through all kinds of developments and evolutions and especially the recent seasons are praised for incorporating important discussions about mental health, sexuality and gender identity.
1 Batman: The Animated Series – 9.0
It’s really no surprise that Batman: the animated series still remains DC’s highest-rated and most popular animated series, even nearly thirty years after the series finale. It’s far from the first Batman show, but it’s pivotal in developing these crossover series and franchises. Honestly, if it’s not for Batman: the animated series there probably wouldn’t be the DCEU, nor even the MCU.
Fans, in particular, are drawn to Kevin Conroy’s legendary voice as Batman, leading him to do battle with Michael Keaton, Christian Bale and now Robert Pattinson as the best Batman portrayal. The noir aesthetic is a perfect match for Batman and helped create unique portrayals of many characters. Only at the moment Harley Quinn or young justice could probably get out of the chair Batman: the animated series as DC Comics’ best animated show, though they both still have a long way to go.
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