There are children's cartoons, and then there's Batman: The Animated Series. Upon debuting in September 1992, right on the heels of Tim Burton's second foray into the Gotham universe, Batman Returns, the series immediately drew more comparisons to Burton's work than any of its animated superhero peers.

The look of the series is the first thing you notice, the early '40s or '50s noir asthetic. In the world adapted by now legendary comic writer and animator Bruce Timm, bullets fly, real stakes are raised, and the villains are deadly serious. The series executed one power move after another, starting with the brilliant casting of Mark Haamill as The Joker (still a definitive performance to this day, vocal or otherwise) and created a fanbase that allowed their version of the character and the universe to run for over a decade, into one equally excellent spinoff after another.

The series worked best when the writers held a cracked pane of glass between Bruce Wayne and the psycho villains he pursued, and with eighty-five episodes, they rarely made a misstep. The best of the best don't rely on nostalgia—these episodes hold up on their own today because they weren't made with 10-year-old kids in mind. Today, on Batman creator Bob Kane's birthday, we count down the best episodes of one of his iconic character's greatest adaptations. Read on for The Best Episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.

Written by Frazier Tharpe (@The_SummerMan)