Batman: The Animated Series/Tear Jerker

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Other than being one of the better known Batman adaptations, Batman the Animated Series has its ample share of tear-jerking moments, both on the Hurting Hero himself as well as plenty of his adversaries.

  • "Heart of Ice". Just..."Heart of Ice".
    • The scene where Batman himself is horrified when he finds the video recording that tells him (and the viewers) how Victor Fries became Mr. Freeze via Corrupt Corporate Executive.
      • My god indeed.
    • The 'summer day' speech moves this troper to tears every time.
    • The ending, where Freeze tearfully apologizes to the small dancing doll that represents Nora in his Arkham cell, for not being able to save her. *sooooooooob*

"I have failed you. I wish there was another way I could say it. I cannot... I can only beg your forgiveness, and hope that you can hear me somehow... someplace... where a warm hand waits for mine..."

  • Freeze's final appearance in TAS. After the events of Batman and Mister Freeze Sub Zero, Nora is cured of her disease but, believing her husband to be dead, remarries and leaves Gotham forever. This, along with his body slowly deteriorating to the point where he is only a HEAD causes him to cross the 'Despair Event Horizon' and decides that if he can't have a happy ending, no one can.
  • Poor, poor Mary aka Baby Doll. "Why couldn't you just let me make believe?!"
  • "Growing Pains", where Robin helps a scared amnesiac girl, Annie, run away from a superstrong man. Turns out the man is Clayface, and she's actually a part of him that he's trying to have merge back with him. He succeeds.
    • "Any other charges?" "...yeah. Murder." ... *sniff*
    • It was worse if you actually read the comics at the time. At that point, Tim Drake/Robin was still early in his solo series, and he had a love interest his age for whom Annie was a dead ringer, and who had a similar name. For someone watching who thought the show was bringing her from the comics to the screen, the ending is an even bigger shock.
  • Really, "Batman: TAS" was very good at this. Other especially sad episodes include "Mad as a Hatter", "Mudslide", "Home and Garden", "Deep Freeze", "His Silicon Soul", and "Robin's Reckoning". Additionally, it is very hard to think of a character on the show who doesn't have a backstory that's really sad. Except Riddler, maybe.
    • Riddler doesn't seem too tragic a character at first, but Word of God and background information outside his on-screen appearances makes him very sympathetic and pitiable. Extremely intelligent and frankly quite an oddball, he was always a social outcast, but hoped to make something of himself by utilizing his intellect in designing a hugely successful video game... only for his greedy boss to cheat him of the credit for it and fire him when he tried to sue. Is it really any wonder the Riddler sought revenge? And then there's his obsession with outsmarting Batman that pushes him back into villainy after an attempted reform.
    • To elaborate a little on the Mad Hatter - he pines after Alice, feeling that he's not good enough for her, and she has a boyfriend. They break up, and Tetch sees an opportunity to finally woo her, succeeds at it (albeit toeing the Moral Event Horizon by using Mind Control to get others to help impress her), but is then shut down when Billy comes back in the picture. Enraged, he crosses the Horizon firmly by mind-controlling her beau into breaking off the engagement, eventually abducting her and getting bested by Batman. Then, as he's lying beneath the claws of the Jabberwocky, he's forced to watch as Alice run into Billy's arms, moaning out very softly...

Tetch/Hatter: Would not, could not - would not, could not... oh, could not join the dance.

    • As it stands, there are perhaps three villains (Dr. Moreau type, Firefly -- since he crossed into the Moral Event Horizon early on, and the Joker) that don't have a terribly sad backstory.
    • We'll always have this guy to despise. He's the one with no tragic backstory whatsoever. And he's responsible for half the stuff in this folder.
    • Dick's farewell to his circus friends in "Robin's Reckoning" has always brought tears to Bruce Timm's eyes.
    • To elaborate on Robin's Reckoning, while Dick's parents' death is pretty strong, what's really strong is Bruce and Dick's flashback talk near the end of part one, when Bruce sees quite a bit of himself in the acrobat.

Bruce: You keep thinking... "If only I've done something differently. If only I could've... warned them". But there isn't anything you could've done. There isn't anything either of us could've done.
Dick: (looking at Bruce's parents' portrait): Your mom and dad?
(Bruce nods)
Dick: Does the hurt ever go away?
Bruce: I wish I could say "yes". But it will get better in time. For you. That I promise.
(The two hug.)

  • "Old Wounds" is one of the worse tearjerkers in the DCAU as it shows the events leading up to the original Robin's split from Batman. The worst part is if you go back and watch the entire series from the beginning you can actually see their relationship slowly break down over time due not only to the clash in their personalities and idealoligies, but also Bruce's growing obsession and struggle with his own inner darkness. Truth be told, by the time Dick returns to moonlight in Gotham as Nightwing he's Not So Different from Bruce, but it's too late to salvage any relationship they had and he's mostly seen working with Tim and Barbara or else on his own, and then Batman Beyond reveals that Bruce and Dick never truly reconcile, and while Bruce will occasionally reminisce about past adventures with Barbara and Tim he never talks about Dick.
  • In "Perchance to Dream", already a highly emotional episode if ever there was one, ends with The Mad Hatter launching a tirade against Bats when he asks the Hatter why he trapped him in a ideal dreamworld. Of course, the Hatter is quite mad, but it's delivered with such anguish...

Batman: Why. Why did you do it? Why?
The Mad Hatter: You, of all people, have the gall to ask me that?! You ruined my life! I was willing to give you any life you wanted... just to keep you out of mine!

    • For me, it's Bruce accepting the dreamworld as reality, and for about a couple minutes of screen time we get to see him truly happy for the first time...ever. His desperation as he searches for a coherent book as well as the look of pure anguish as he realizes which is his true life always brings a tear to my eye.
  • The entire episode "See No Evil", aside from being prime Nightmare Fuel. We have a creepy ex-con whose former wife and young daughter have a restraining order against him. So he steals some material that allows him to make an invisibility suit, poses as his daughter's imaginary friend Mojo, swipes valuable jewelry for her to gain her trust, and finally attempts to kidnap her. Batman intervenes, he's exposed and foiled, and the episode ends with the girl telling Batman that she and her mother are going to move away, where Daddy will never find them. The whole episode is heartbreaking.
    • I don't know about Accidental Nightmare Fuel- that is very much and Adult Fear episode and creepy by design.
  • It's impossible not get teary eyed in the ending of the episode (and Trope Namer) "Mad Love". Poor Harley Quinn.

Harley Quinn: My fault...I didn't get the joke.

    • The tear jerker value of any episode featuring the Joker mistreating Harley will be increased after seeing Mad Love.
    • To aid in that, here's a brief summary. Harley manages to abduct Batman on her own. After he laughs at her naivete, prompting her to yell that Joker had told her "secret things, things he's never told anyone!" Bats then rips this apart by countering with "Was it his line about the abusive father? Or the one about the alchoholic mom? Of course, the runaway orphan story is popular. He's gained a lot of sympathy with that one... What was it he told his parole officer? Oh yeah - 'There was only one time I ever saw Dad really happy. He took me to the Ice Show when I was seven.'" This shatters her illusion, but she starts to lower him into the tank because she sees him as the true problem with their relationship, but he convinces her that Mr. J won't believe her without his body as evidence. She then calls the Joker, who's infuriated at her, providing the picture and line for this. He then pushes her out a 3rd story window onto some crates in the alley below. After a few lines of dialogue between him and Batsy, the camera then pans onto Harley's broken body, where she utters the aforementioned line. Never before has such a frank look at an abusive relationship been on television (something that the average Lifetime Movie of the Week wishes it could do).
    • And it gets worse - at the end of the episode, it looks like Harley is about to swear off the Joker for good and reform... only to find a flower in her cell saying "Feel better soon - J."

Harleen Quinzel: Never again. No more obsession, no more craziness, no more Joker. I finally see that slime for what he is: a murderous, manipulative, irredeemable...
(notices the flower on the nightstand)
Harley Quinn: ... Angel!

    • "Mad Love" is probably one of the greatest episodes in the entire series because it doesn't back down on abusive relationships and it's a KID'S SHOW (for the most part). While most of the interactions between Harley and Joker are played for laughs (The final act in Harlequinade for example), "Mad Love" shows just how obsessed Joker is with getting the Batman in ways that "The Man who killed Batman" only hinted at. And to see him snap at her the way he did was horrifying because she IS a fan-favorite and the writers and animators tried hard to make her cute, quirky, and adorable. Usually when she's happy, it makes at least some fans hearts melt and when she finally sees the Joker for what he is...the Joker knows just what to do to make her come running back. Mad Love wasn't the first episode to show their abusive cycle, but it didn't hold anything back in showing how devastating abuse can be. This troper liked to think that the Joker had at least a little caring in his heart for Harley, but this episode ripped up that idea pretty quickly.
  • Bruce's guilt-fueled dream in "Two Face Part II".
    • That's it? The entire Two-Face arc was absolutely heartbreaking. With the first episode, it starts uncomfortable as we see the angry side of Harvey coming out more and more. It ends with his face getting scarred so badly that it basically destroys his mind, and the scene where he walks out and is seen by his fiance, Grace, is the capper. But it gets worse in the second part, whether it be his constant thinking about Grace and longing to be with her, Grace's shock at realizing that she accidentally led Thorne to Harvey which was further proof to Harvey that life is ruled by chance, and capping it with his complete psychotic breakdown when he can't find his coin, having a closer resemblance to an animal than a man. It finally ends with Batman going to a fountain after telling Gordon that there's always hope, wishing Harvey luck, and then flipping the coin in as it lands heads up. The arc rivals Heart of Ice for the biggest Tear Jerker of the series.
    • And how about the very last time we see Harvey? He went even crazier and developed a second alternate personality called The Judge, a personality so separate from his 'normal' ones that it tried to kill him. Batman stops him eventually and sends Harvey back to Arkham. We see Harvey in his cell, in a straightjacket as he hears the Judge saying, "The People versus Harvey Dent. How does the defendant plead?" And all poor Harvey can do is brokenly say over and over again, "Guilty... Guilty... Guilty..."
    • Why couldn't you save us, son?
  • "Over the Edge", period - even though it's All Just a Dream, it is still possibly the most emotionally intense episode. From Batgirl's death to Gordon and Bruce's reactions, to Bruce telling a teary-eyed Tim to leave for his own good. And in the last scenes of the dream, seeing how broken both Batman and Jim had become only upped the sadness.
    • One of the more poignant parts is that its subtly implied that Gordon is well aware of how his vendetta against Batman is both irrational and turning him into a monster himself, but after sacking Wayne Manor and ordering the arrests of Alfred, Dick and Tim, there's no going back, and he knows it.
  • "Feat of Clay".

"I'm not an actor anymore, Teddy. I'm not even... a man."

  • Clayface's final moments in "Mudslide." As his only hope of redeeming himself or ever being human again quite literally melts away, he miserably looks up at Batman and admits defeat:

"Too late, Batman. Curtain's going down...for good this time."

  • "Second Chance". The end. Just watch it without a small drop.
  • The show even makes you care about villain-of-the-week characters who never show up again. In "Tyger, Tyger", you're introduced to a deranged geneticist and his creation, a cat-man hybrid named Tygrus. The scientist has Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) kidnapped to be transformed into his mate. You're largely indifferent towards the creature until you find out he's sentient and capable of speech: he thinks of the doctor as his father and the only reason he's an antagonist in the episode is because the doctor lied to him, telling him that Selina would grow to love him once Batman was out of the way. He's eventually persuaded that Batman isn't his enemy, but this angers the doctor, and in an ensuing struggle with Batman, he dies. Upon being confronted once and for all with the crushing reality that Selina definitely does not want to remain a cat-person, he forks over the antidote to her and bids her goodbye. Selina tries to persuade him to come with them, saying there's nothing for him on the doctor's island anymore. His response is terribly depressing:

"There's nothing for me anywhere".

  • There are scenes throughout the series that make it pretty clear just how strongly Bruce feels that his parents' deaths were entirely his fault.
    • A great example of that is when Batman returns to the spot where his parents were shot and he's with the woman who originally helped comfort him as a child.
  • "Birds of a Feather": You will pity the Penguin.
    • To explain for those who never saw it. In this episode Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot is released, fully intending to retire from crime - and finding that without his criminal friends, his life is pretty void of companionship. He meets up with Veronica Vreeland a shallow former love interest of Bruce Wayne's, and a male friend (it's never shown whether they're romantically involved) who's an ever bigger Jerkass than she is. They decide to amuse themselves by pretending to like Penguin and bringing him into high society, being inspired by the fact that the most-talked about party of the year involved The Joker crashing it and holding people hostage. The Penguin falls for it, going so far as to plan to propose to Miss Vreeland. Even Batman congratulates him on the new direction of his life (although still decidedly unconvinced that he's truly reformed). Unfortunately, Oswald finds out that they were playing him for a fool the whole time and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Vicky and her Upper Class Twit of a friend. Batman stops him and the saddened Penguin returns to prison, musing ironically to himself: "I guess it's true what they say. Society is to blame. High society."
    • After Oswald came to her defense and fought off some muggers, she could actually have been falling for him, and the conversation where The Penguin found out about the plan to use him was because Veronica was chatting with her male friend about having second thoughts about the entire thing.
  • A subtle one in "Animal Act," in which Dick and Tim visit the former's circus home.

Tim: This must've been a fun place to grow up.
Dick: (looking up at the trapeze) It was.

  • Poison Ivy's introductory episode, where she accidentally kills her mutant flytrap plant, then sets her whole greenhouse on fire. You actually feel sorry for fiction's ultimate eco-terrorist when you see the look on her face at what she's done.
    • For that matter, even though she escaped at the end of the episode, the one where she tried to have some kind of a family and normal life (even though it was all a fake) left you feeling some pity for Pamela.
  • Selena desperately searching for Isis in the early scenes of "Cat Scratch Fever."
    • Plus when she does this later on, as she's starting to succumb to the effects of the disease. To make matters worse, she got infected after she was scratched by one of the infected animals at the lab... Isis.
  • Almost all of "I Am the Night," which starts with Bruce despondent over how crime will always exist no matter how many small battles with it he wins, and his spiral of depression getting worse when he blames himself for Gordon being shot.
  • In "Sideshow," Croc escapes into the wilderness and is taken in by a group of ex-sideshow performers who think he's escaped his own brutal circus masters. Eventually Batman finds them and his true nature shows itself, and as he's taken back to prison the "seal boy" who first found him asks why he didn't just retire from his criminal life and stay with them in peace. Croc's response is surprisingly insightful, for him anyway: "You said you could be yourself out here, remember? I guess that's what I was doing: being myself."
  • Tim overhearing that his father is dead in "Sins of the Father."
  • The reveal that Calendar Girl's face is perfectly normal, and beautiful, but she's so psychologically screwed up from the way the modeling industry treated her that she only sees the flaws in it.
    • Made even worse with the Reality Subtext, as the voice-actress of Calendar Girl was told the exact same thing by the modeling industry, but didn't have psychological damage because of it.
  • Pretty much any origin story. The BTAS villains are tragic.