Top 10 Batman: The Animated Series Episodes

If you ask me who my favorite Batman villain is outside of The Joker, it would definitely have to be The Riddler. When I was a kid and they sold VHS tapes (remember those?) of episodes of series, my parents bought me one from Batman: The Animated Series and it was his first and last appearance in the series. His first appearance encapsulates everything great and terrifying about The Riddler. From the beginning, we see Edward Nygma (get it?) finishing a crossword puzzle with relative ease. But after being locked out of his episode and fired by his boss, Daniel Mockridge, for suing the company for royalties on a game he developed, Nygma is furious.

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Cut to the present day, Mockridge is brokering a deal with Bruce Wayne when a threat appears on a news ticker outside. Hinting that Nygma has been threatening him for some time now. We later see Bruce suiting up as Batman and skulking around trying to figure out the riddle while Dick Grayson aka Robin is conveniently playing the game that Nygma developed. The two manage to discover where Nygma has his threat laid out where they come face to face with The Riddler…whom Batman immediately knows is Edward Nygma due to reading the company’s history.

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Within the episode, we really see the value in Batman and Robin. As smart as Batman is, he needs someone to bounce ideas off and there are just things he doesn’t know. Due to Dick being a young adult, he is familiar with the live action version of the video game that he was playing earlier, which Nygma has managed to weaponize. A musical puzzle later is also something that Batman knows nothing about and it is up to Robin to help solve it. Also being familiar with the maze due to video game, he is the key to Batman figuring out loopholes to stop The Riddler’s plan.

The Riddler in the episode shows why he is one of Batman’s greatest villains. Pushing his mental limits as he does not just keep to one type of brain teasers but instead mixes it up and almost everything has a secret meaning. Something that goes unsaid but every episode that features The Riddler also has Robin in it to help Batman. From the beginning, we see how smug and narcissistic Nygma is. Almost all his dialogue with other people has him mentioning how great his intellect is while belittling those he is talking to. But as Mockridge even asks, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” Nygma claims he is so smart yet he couldn’t comprehend that he signed a work for hire contract and while his lawsuit may be justified somewhat, it still seems like something he should have known before. Mockridge also firing him for suing the company also seems highly illegal yet Nygma does nothing about that and jumps straight to murder.

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The ending of the episode is also great as The Riddler manages to get away. While he is a wanted man, he did achieve a variation of his goal. While he did not kill Mockridge, Mockridge is a shell of his former self. Having to sleep with a shotgun in his bed just because of his fear of The Riddler. Even though Batman managed to save him, Batman himself does not seem to give the man much sympathy either. It really makes you think about how you treat people whether you are in the right or wrong or in the middle.