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Top 5 Most Shocking Moments In The DC Animated Universe


There was a time when DC Comics had a plethora of classic heroes on TV via their animated series. What started as one, became two, then became a team show, then a team show with an unlimited roster, a future version of a classic hero, and so on. This was the DC Animated Universe, and though many attempts to replicate it have been done, whether singularly or in a team setting, the magic of these interconnected shows just haven’t been matched.

But more than that, these shows, and their attached movies, were never afraid to show truth and darkness. Much like their comic book inspirations, sometimes heroes don’t get a happy ending, or survive unscathed. The true test of many a hero is to see a tragedy, and rise above it. These shows weren’t afraid to do that, or at least do it in the most impactful way without breaking the true tone of the show.

So, below, are 5 of the most shocking moments from the DC Animated Universe. For those who are keeping score, that’s Batman TAS, Superman TAS, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. No Teen Titans, Young Justice, or other incarnations of various heroes. The shows above were one timeline, one universe, interconnected, the others were not. Let’s begin shall we?

Honorable Mention: Justice League Unlimited: Once And Future Thing’s Deaths:


One of the more interesting arcs in the first season of Justice League Unlimited was the two-part story titled “Once and Future Thing”. It dealt with a time-traveler who gets discovered by the League, and then has Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (John Stewart) chase after him. After dealing with the past in the form of the Wild Wild West, they are then thrown into the future, where Chronos rules Neo-Gotham with an iron fist and a gang of Jokerz at his beck and call.

While this may be a “standard” comic story, JLU took it a step farther by revealing just how much control Chronos had. He killed most of the Justice League on their Watchtower. Then, he killed one of his own men by sending back in time to the moment just before the Earth was hit by a meteor.

The most shocking moment though was when the future Batman, Terry McGinnis, was killed by Dee-Dee. It was brutal, and nearly very graphic, as he was shown being electrocuted by Dee-Dee’s whips. Though they didn’t show the moment itself, they did show an elderly Bruce Wayne mourn him when he was killed.

Why an honorable mention? Well, the death, and subsequent deaths were undone. Batman and Green Lantern stopped Chronos before he reached the beginning of time, and thus reset everything. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact that they killed Batman Beyond, nearly erased Wonder Woman from history, and showed Hal Jordan officially in DCAU cannon.

5. Batman TAS: Two-Face’s Origin


Two-Face is one of Batman’s most tragic villains. Mainly because Harvey Dent was an honest lawyer who wants to make things right in Gotham, usually making him an ally to Batman in the process, and will do what it takes within the law to make Gotham safe. Unfortunately, that always makes him enemies, in the case of Batman TAS, that was Rupert Thorn, a gangster who wanted Harvey either gone, or under his thumb. With the first option unlikely, he resorted to blackmail, in the form of finding out that Harvey had mental problems in the form of a split personality.

When Throne confronted Dent about it, Dent snapped, and tried to kill him. This led to Dent almost being shot, then almost literally blown up on screen. Pretty dark for the 90’s. What really sold it though was the final scene where we see Dent’s scarred face. A look so terrifying, it made Batman cringe, as well as the doctor, nurse, and Dent’s girlfriend. Harvey Dent is gone, long live Two-Face.

Justice League Unlimited:Superman Vs. Shazam


When Justice League was made, and by accounts during the original Superman TAS series, the intent was eventually to bring in Shazam (aka Captain Marvel) into the fold at some point. The timing was just never right though.

Then, in Justice League Unlimited, the time finally came…but it was nothing like we expected. The Cadmus arc was in full swing, and Superman was already showing the effects of it. He was becoming very bitter, especially in the case of Lex Luthor, who was running for President at the time. Shazam, who was acting like Superman used to, was actually standing up for Luthor, and noted how everyone should get a second chance at life. This put him in conflict with Superman.

This escalated when Luthor “appeared” to have a bomb ready to go off at a charity event. Superman demanded that Lex reveal what was going on, only for Shazam to appear and ask for cooler heads to prevail. The result was a clash of legends.

The great irony of this was that it was a setup by Lex to make Superman look impulsive and untrustworthy, and it worked. But an unintentional side effect was that after the battle, Shazam quit the Justice League, making “Clash” his only true appearance in the DCAU. Much to the sadness of fans.

While it may not be shocking now, as superheroes fighting is a standard thing now a days, back then, this was huge. Superman was unhinged in a way, blinded by his hatred of Luthor. For him to go to such lengths to stop Luthor, and beat Shazam, was a dark side we’ve rarely seen before.

Justice League Unlimited: Death of Flash


Ok, yes, this is an “undone” moment, but, it was easily one of the most impactful of the series run.

The end of the first season of JLU culminated in Brainiac merging with Lex Luthor to become something far more powerful. That in itself was a shocking moment to be honest. However, the moment that many people remember from the episode was when Flash stopped the merged two at great cost.

Flash throughout the series was meant to be the comic relief, and for good reason, and much enjoyment. Here though, Flash not only showed his true heroism, but also his true power. In an attempt to save everyone, he raced around the world at near light speed, and slowly stripped Lex of Brainiac. So fast did he go that when he stopped, he literally vibrated with speed. With that power within him he destroyed Brainiac from within Luthor, leaving him powerless.

However, this power took its toll, and Flash faded from the world. For 45 agonizing seconds, fans truly believed Flash, one of the original seven, was dead. Something no one ever thought would happen on a cartoon. Thankfully, he was saved, but it felt like an eternity waiting for him to come back.

Batman Beyond: Joker Wins


The DCAU had many tie-in movies, with stories that often were true canon, and thus had an effect on the shows themselves, or even the comics that came after. Easily the one that had the most impact, and shocking moments, was Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

For much of Batman Beyond, the question of “What Happened To Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery?” was prevalent throughout the series. Some of them were actually brought back into the fold in one or another. While others we were left to assume about.One villain though, made his return in the most unbelievable way ever, and with it came the reveal that he beat the Batman in the most personal way possible.

The moment Joker showed up in the villain with a new, and very young, body, we were left wondering what happened. How was he alive? How was he so young? And why didn’t Bruce tell Terry he was still out there? The answers were as varied as they were shocking. Mainly in that Joker did die during the “era” that Batman TAS was in. But not before striking a blow that made Batman Beyond what it was.

For you see, Joker kidnapped Tim Drake, who was Robin at the time, and proceeded to torture, mutilate, brainwash, and trick him into thinking he was his son. This was revealed to Batman in a most horrifying way, but none moreso than Joker getting to rub it in his face…

Yes, Joker died following his win, and he came back again to haunt Bruce. It would’ve been easy to title this section “Joker Wins…and Dies”. As both were true and shocking (no pun intended). However, it was death that sealed the victory. Because it was Drake that killed him, and it was a wound the Bat-Family would not recover from.

Superman TAS: Dan Turpin Gets Killed


Death is a curious thing in cartoons. Often times it’s not what you think. Or it’ll be reversed near instantly, as some of the examples above showed. But, in the history of the DC Animated Universe, there is one death that was not reversed, one, that was not a fake out. One, that was straight up murder. The death of Dan Turpin.

It was in the final moments of the epic “Apokolips…Now!” trilogy, where Darkseid had nearly taken over Metropolis, and stopped Superman. Tarkin had actually freed Superman, and thus allowed the fight to continue. Only an alliance from New Genesis stopped the conflict, forcing Darkseid to retreat. But as would note most hauntingly, every victory has a price.


For its time, and even now, this death is shocking. As it is shown in full view, and immediately felt. So traumatic was this, that when I did a rewatch of the Superman animated series, I truly believed that Turpin wasn’t dead, but merely teleported to Apokolips. Sadly, this was not the case. Turpin was gone, and Superman couldn’t save him. It was this moment that truly made Superman angry with Darkseid, and it would reflect in every battle he would have since. More than that though, it showed everyone who watch the truth about the world. People die, and the don’t come back. And as Superman would say, “the world really didn’t need a Superman…just a brave one.”

The DC Animated Universe was fully of great and shocking moments. Did this list trigger some memories of them? If so, let us know what they were, as well as what you thought of our list!


  1. I always did feel bad that Captain Marvel has only made one appearance in a DC animated series, it was cool to see him in Justice League Unlimited, though for that one episode, because he really is one of my favorite heroes in DC, on a tangent it sure was nice he did make an apperance in the Mortal Kombat and DC crossover game.

  2. Well, he was a bigger factor in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, had numerous appearances, but yeah, for the DCAU, that was it! I hate that, cause like you, SHAZAM! is one of my favorite characters.

    He was also in Injustice: Gods Among us, where he was…wait for it….killed by Superman! *sigh*