There are few cartoon series that have made as profound an impact as Batman: The Animated Series. Aside from inspiring a slew of spin-offs into the DC Animated Universe, it also started a still-going trend of making animation accessible for adults, not just a merchandising ploy to sell toys and cereal.
While the background art was gorgeous, the soundtrack basically taken from the Burton Batman movies, and the animation incredibly smooth and full for the time, where B:TAS really excelled was in the character work. It was in this series that we saw, for the first time in any medium, the backstories of many characters, the intricacies of their relationships, conversations above the level of bang-pow, and even more mundane things like the workings of the Gotham City Police Department.
With a mix of classic villains from Batman's extensive rogue's gallery and characters newly created for the show (a few who have no become iconic in their own right), the series never lacked for a cast to bring these adventures to life (so to speak.)
Combine these characters with a voice cast that is arguably unrivalled to this day, and you have the makings of a great show. Throw in the lovingly created animation and sound, the Bat 'toys', and a dose of humour, and you have the makings of a legendary show.
10. The Gray Ghost
There is no denying that the 1960s Batman TV show is a cultural touchstone. The show brought the world of Batman to mainstream TV audiences for the first time and made stars of its leads Adam West and Burt Ward (although both would subsequently complain the show typecast them for the rest of their careers.)
When it came time to update Batman on TV for a new generation of viewers, the creative team wisely reached back to the last big Batman TV moment and asked Adam West to play a washed-up actor who was a childhood hero of Bruce's.
Actor Simon Trent, much like Adam West in real life, is a past-his-glory-days actor who played The Gray Ghost, a character in a black-and-white TV show Bruce idolized as a kid. During a crime spree in Gotham, Batman begins to put together clues that lead to both his revered childhood show and its lead. Eventually, Trent puts his costume back on, and at the side of the hero he inspired, defeats The Mad Bomber, which revitalizes his career.
There is so much meta commentary around the Gray Ghost, long before it became cool to do so, that it is a bit tough to track. Adam West playing the inspiration for the animated version of a character he earlier portrayed, and finding redemption in doing so, makes for one of the best episodes of the series and one of the most memorable one-shot characters.