After the original and acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, the tail-end of the ’90s brought what proved to be a surprising cult hit in the cyberpunk-themed Batman Beyond. Blending the Batman mythos with elements from the likes of Blade Runner made Terry McGinnis’ iteration of the superhero a fan-favorite, and hardcore fans still clamoring for a Beyond live-action adaptation.
Along with the aforementioned shows, Batman Beyond concludes an animated Batman trilogy of sorts, bringing its own aspects to the table. The show stands on its own thanks to great new stories, as well as some original characters.
10 Ace In The Hole (8.3/10)
“Ace in the Hole” serves as another origin story, but for the beloved Ace, Bruce’s rescued Great Dane. In the present, Terry takes Ace for a walk when the latter suddenly becomes hostile towards a stranger and gives chase. Bruce and Terry find out that the stranger was “Boxer,” a dogfighting promoter who illegally bought Ace years ago.
The episode goes through Ace’s past, then shows his fateful encounter with Bruce when he was assaulted by a Joker gang member. In the present, Terry helps Ace escape Boxer and return lovingly to his master. The Bat-Hound has taken multiple forms in comics history, but the Beyond iteration easily won the most fans’ hearts. He fits in perfectly in this continuity as the companion of the retired, increasingly lonely Bruce Wayne.
9 Eyewitness (8.3/10)
Terry taking up the mantle of Batman meant gaining trust from Bruce that he’d uphold a moral standard, and “Eyewitness” makes a vintage “framed” plot out of this concept. Commissioner Barbara Gordon goes on a crusade against Batman after seemingly witnessing him murder Mad Stan. However, after Bruce scrubs through security footage, he discovers tampering that leads him to deduce Terry has been framed.
Commissioner Gordon nearly has Batman arrested, before the latter ultimately reveals Spellbinder used his illusory technology to trick Barbara into seeing Stan’s death. It’s a good episode that once again highlights how the “no-kill rule” resonates within the Batfamily.
8 Out Of The Past (8.4)
An episode centered around Bruce Wayne’s past, “Out of the Past” brings back the formidable Ra’s al Ghul, one of the greatest Batman villains. Bruce looks back on the women from his life, then is surprisingly visited by Talia al Ghul. She claims to have used her father’s Lazarus Pit to rejuvenate herself and nearly convinces him to use it to full effect.
It’s revealed later that it’s actually Ra’s in Talia’s body. He had Talia sacrifice herself so that he could use a youthful body to eventually take over Bruce’s prime body. After Ra’s is defeated, Bruce somberly looks upon an old photo of him with Talia, wishing her a peaceful rest. It’s a tragic story, as it emphasized more of what Bruce had lost during his Batman tenure.
7 Rebirth: Part 2 (8.4/10)
The two-part premiere of Batman Beyond did brilliantly set the stage for the show in a memorable fashion, and Part 2 continued Terry’s introduction. Bruce insists that Batman is no more, but confides in Terry enough to help him figure out what’s behind the shady up-and-coming supervillain that is Derek Powers, the new CEO of Wayne-Powers—formerly Wayne Enterprises.
Powers is secretly developing a bioweapon and is behind the death of Terry’s father, and McGinnis eventually steals the Batsuit and goes after him and his henchman, Mr. Fixx. Through tense circumstances, Bruce and Terry discover their effectiveness as a team and revive the mantle of Batman.
6 Splicers (8.4/10)
Making full use of the futuristic setting, “Splicers” takes a new spin on characteristics of the sci-fi supervillains in Batman’s rogues gallery. A new fad starts to popularize within Gotham’s youth in the form of “splicing,” which is altering genetics to take on properties of wild animals. Dr. Cuvier wants splicing to literally change the world, but this tampering causes an increase in aggression for those experimented on.
Terry ends up getting spliced to resemble Kirk Langstrom’s Man-Bat during Bruce’s days, but he ultimately stops Cuvier and cures himself with Ace’s help. This was an entertaining callback story to the original Batman’s “creature-feature” stories while also not leaning too hard into Silver-Age campiness. For instance, The New Batman Adventures has plenty of solid episodes, but “Critters” was a particular creature-feature that fell flat.
5 Meltdown (8.5/10)
While Beyond introduced fresh villains for a Batman of a new age, “Meltdown” goes back to a classic rogue with Mr. Freeze. Powers tries to clone a new, healthy body and tests this technology on Victor Fries. At first, it appears the procedure worked, with Fries able to lead a normal life outside a cryogenic suit in a normal body.
However, his body progressively reverts back to relying on the cold, and Powers and his assistant resolve to kill Fries. In the ensuing brawl between Batman, Powers—now Blight—and Mr. Freeze, Freeze forces the new Dark Knight to escape the exploding building without him. BTAS reinvented this beloved villain, and “Meltdown” brings his Greek tragedy full-circle while also working as a complete origin for Blight. From there on, Blight serves as the major Batman supervillain of this new Gotham.
4 Rebirth: Part 1 (8.5/10)
Going back to the two-part premiere, “Rebirth: Part 1” arguably has the most powerful introduction to this new age. It shows fans the “downfall” of an aging Bruce/Batman as he becomes even more distant from his Batfamily. He finally hangs up the cape and cowl after his body failed him against a gang of simple muggers, and the Batsuit Terry would inherit couldn’t compensate enough.
Bruce resorted to pointing a gun at them for intimidation to escape alive. Then, the episode jumps to the present to cover Terry’s origin, including the murder of his father. They drew great parallels, but Bruce’s prologue was the best primer. Fans see an aging Dark Knight growing into a world leaving him behind before finally finding a new partnership, inspiration, and friendship in McGinnis.
3 Sneak Peek (8.6/10)
In “Sneak Peek,” Terry watches a TV show where Ian Peek exploits the secrets and privacy of notable Gotham residents. His mother shuts it off, saying he wouldn’t appreciate it if it was him being exploited. Meanwhile, Batman is thwarted by a mysterious man that can seemingly pass through solid matter, and Bruce rules out former Wayne Enterprises scientist Nabuo Taka, having died five years ago.
As that happens, Peek, the mysterious man with Taka’s technology, gets footage of Terry unmasking in the Batcave with Bruce, preparing to reveal it on his show. Peek finally offers to destroy the footage due to his uncontrollable condition when it’s revealed he killed Taka and stole his research. But, after a struggle with him, Bruce, and Batman, Peek ends up endlessly falling through the earth.
2 The Call: Part 2 (8.7/10)
The two-part “The Call” story came late-series and remains a fan favorite. The episodes served as a jumpstart for the two Justice League animated shows that followed. At this point, Terry and Bruce are shocked that Superman is League-member Warhawk’s assailant, but he has a difficult time convincing the rest of the Justice League.
They’re still aggressive toward Batman, but Warhawk reveals he survived and confides in him. It turns out that Starro had been controlling Superman to reproduce its species. After the crisis is sorted, they offer Terry a spot in the League, but he rejects it. Superman then teases something fans will discover in terms of Terry’s history.
1 The Call: Part 1 (8.7/10)
In the first part, Terry and Bruce are visited by Superman in Gotham after the former encounters supervillain Inque. The Son of Krypton is older, but just as physically competent as he was during Bruce’s Batman days. After visiting the cave, Superman says he’s there to offer the new young Batman membership in the League.
However, Terry is treated with hostility and suspicion upon arrival, especially after the string of incidents and Warhawk’s apparent death. Given DC’s buildup of animated shows beginning with BTAS, this story was an exciting and worthy appetizer for what was to come, and it’s a heavy legacy to carry in animation coming with the highly-anticipated Batman: Caped Crusader.