The DC Animated Universe has proven to be as influential in modern DC media as the comics on which they are based. The blueprint of the DCAU can often be found in modern movies and shows, and it’s easy to see why. The DCAU was composed of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Static Shock, Batman Beyond, Project Zeta, Justice League, Y Unlimited Justice League.

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Collectively, each of these shows relied less on creating bombastic and shocking moments of action, but on moments that resonated emotionally and were treated with a universal human understanding that children and mature audiences could not only take seriously, but also shed a few tears.

10 The (kind of) death of Superman


There is a “kind of” disclaimer because this was not the actual death of Superman. The toy maker’s seemingly fatal blow League of Justice “Beyond” simply transported the Man of Steel to the future, minimizing the level of sadness of this moment a bit.

However, despite undoing the ramifications of his death minutes later, the reaction of Superman’s teammates to his apparent death is treated with the greatest gamble, severity, and grief like the original. Death of superman end of comic arc. The most heartbreaking part came during the funeral, when Lois Lane shed tears of rage at Lex Luthor’s arrival, before the nemesis genuinely said, “Believe it or not, I’m going to miss him too.”

9 Superman gives up his chance to be happy

Superman says goodbye to his son in the Justice League Unlimited episode for the man who has everything

While Superman’s “death”, which is somewhat artificial, minimized any grief that might stem from it, a similar artificiality is what does. Unlimited justice league “For the man who has everything” in a movie of tears. It’s an adaptation of an Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons comic of the same name, where Superman is subdued by an alien parasite, rendering him helpless as he imagines an ideal family life on Krypton.

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When you realize you are in a dream, it is hard not to shed a tear as you say goodbye to the child you could never have on a planet that no longer exists.

8 Mr. Freeze finally saves Nora … but at what cost?

The DCAU is packed with tear-provoking moments with Mr. Freeze as the universe went to great lengths to recontextualize a silly ice bank robber into a truly tragic character, but for some fans, the tears flow more during the finale. to Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero. They are tears of joy and bittersweet irony.

It ends when Freeze watches the news from afar to discover that his wife, Nora, has been revived and underwent an organ transplant operation in the name of Bruce Wayne’s money. This brings Freeze to a tearful peace, but it’s hard to see how he can truly enjoy the moment now that Freeze himself is presumed dead and alone in the Arctic, while the wife he fought so vigorously for is elsewhere. He lost everything so that Nora could live.

7 Tim Drake kills the Joker … but at what cost?

There are actually two versions of this moment of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. The made-for-TV edition sees a recently Joker Tim Drake shoving Joker into a tub of water, after which he is electrocuted by wiring. The original uncensored film version sees Drake shooting Joker in the chest.

Either way, the consequences are truly heartbreaking. Sure, Batman’s archrival has finally been defeated, but the Bat-Family is forever torn apart, while Tim Drake himself is destined to be as scarred emotionally and mentally as he is physically.

6 Ace’s Origin story brings dog lovers to tears


Speaking of Batman Beyond, That’s a show full of awful and surprisingly disturbing moments for a children’s show, but it gets really sad when Bruce’s pet dog Ace is traced back to “Ace in the Hole.”

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Everyone loves dogs, so it’s hard not to feel a bit of remorse seeing a battered and abused baby Ace being raised for dogfighting. Once he finally escapes, a lost Ace finds a scruffy old Bruce Wayne mugged in Crime Alley while trying to pay his respects to his late parents. Once Ace saves Bruce’s life, the billionaire accepts Ace as one of his own.

5 Bruce thinks he failed his parents

Batman movie screenshot

Batman: Ghost Mask sees Bruce Wayne joking about the prospect of a happy, normal life when he falls in love with Andrea Beaumont. But this love is not cause for celebration, but for mourning for Bruce, who doubts that he can continue to be Batman. He expresses this at his parents’ grave. “I wasn’t counting on being happy,” he says. “Please tell me it’s okay.”

More depressing than Bruce’s heartbreak is the idea that Bruce has internalized that his parents would be disappointed if he didn’t pursue the life of a vengeful vigilante. Surely, they would rather have him settle down with a woman he loves rather than chase pranksters and riddles.

4 Wrist breakdown

animated batman doll

Batman: The Animated Series has been often praised by critics for its mature and sensitive approach to mental health. Batman doesn’t always strike villains with clear mental illnesses. Try to reason and emphasize with them. This idea is fully shown in the episode “Baby-Doll”.

The main character is a former child star who has a condition that prevents her body from aging. To cope with the end of her acting career, she kidnaps the co-stars of her canceled hit show. During a fun house chase, Baby Doll breaks down when she realizes that she will never have a normal life, firing erratically until she runs out of bullets. She cries in Batman’s arms and hugs her in a sympathetic hug.

3 Static reunites with his mom

Virgil and his mother from Static Shock

Static shock often knew exactly how to pull the audience’s heartstrings, often addressing serious social issues (i.e., racism, gun violence, gang violence, etc.) that the show’s other DCAU counterparts were unwilling or unable to . However, the show’s most emotional blow comes when the show chooses to address the death of Virgil’s mother that started his origin story.

In “Flashback”, Static convinces Timezone to allow him to travel back to the night of the Dakota riots five years earlier in order to prevent the death of his mother. When he meets his mother face to face, he has one last conversation, but fails to stop her inevitable death. However, when he returns to the present, his father reveals that before he died, his mother kept talking about how proud she was of Virgil for being a hero.

two Dan Turpin’s death and funeral is a tribute to Jack Kirby

and turpin death

Dan Turpin (whose image was inspired by Jack Kirby, according to Bruce Timm) was always represented in Superman: The Animated Series as someone who doubted Superman and had a genuine dislike for the hero. Despite that, he dies in “Apokolips … Now!” trying to save Superman, confronting Darkseid before being disintegrated by Omega Beams.

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What followed was a funeral attended by everyone from Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to Lex Luthor and Mercy Graves. As Superman mourns Turpin, he admits that “the world didn’t need a superman. Just a brave one.” This is even sadder when you consider that the funeral serves as a tribute to the late Jack Kirby, even including a rabbi singing the mourner’s kaddish, just as one did at Kirby’s funeral.

1 Ace’s death is a fitting ending for the DCAU

Batman and Ace in Justice League Unlimited

“Epilogue” does double duty as the series finale for Unlimited justice league and, sure enough, the final episode aired for the DCAU franchise. There’s a lot going on in this episode, but the most memorable moment comes in a flashback depicting Ace of the Royal Flush Gang inadvertently warping the fabric of reality.

Rather than kill her entirely, Batman chooses to speak to her and she reveals that not only is she slowly dying of an aneurysm, she is scared. To make sure he dies in peace, Batman stays with Ace, holding his hand before taking his body away. And so the DCAU doesn’t end in an epic, action-packed blast, but an emotional punch to the gut. After all, that’s the kind of emotion DCAU was built on.

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