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Tear Jerker / Batman: The Animated Series

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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.

WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.

  • "Heart of Ice". ALL OF IT.
    • When Mr. Freeze accidentally blasts one of his mooks in the legs with his cold gun, he orders his other henchmen to leave him behind. The other underlings protest he is one of them, but Freeze threatens to kill them if they don't hurry up and leave. The other minions are visibly heartbroken as they leave, with the man tearfully begging them not to go. Fortunately, Batman thaws him out and saves his legs.
    • The scene where Batman himself is horrified when he finds the video recording that shows him (and the viewers) how Victor Fries became Mr. Freeze via Corrupt Corporate Executive.
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    • The "summer's day" speech, and the conversation between Batman and Freeze leading up to it.
      Freeze: The snow is beautiful, don't you think? Clean, uncompromising...
      Batman: ...and cold.
      Freeze: Like the swift hand of vengeance.
      Batman: I saw what happened to your wife. I'm sorry.
      Freeze: I'm beyond emotions. They've been frozen dead in me.
      Batman: That suit you wear — a result of the coolant?
      Freeze: Very good. A detective to the last. I can no longer survive outside a sub-zero environment. Tonight, I mean to pay back the man who ruined my life. Our lives...
      Batman: Even if you have to kill everyone in the building to do it?
      Freeze: (nods) Think of it, Batman. To never again walk on a summer's day with the hot wind in your face and a warm hand to hold... oh, yes... I'd kill for that.
    • 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 or avenge her apparent death at the hands of Boyle, as a heart-wrenching music box rendition of his theme plays.
      Freeze: I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it. I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness. (voice breaks as he starts to cry) And pray you hear me somehow, some place... someplace where a warm hand waits for mine. (lowers his head in despair as Batman sympathetically watches in through the window from a nearby rooftop)
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    • Paul Dini once said if he were to do the episode all over again, he would have ended it with Freeze weeping in his cell at Arkham, his tears turning to snowflakes that would then slowly settle on the musical figurine. Wow, Dini thought of a way of making this ending even more of a tearjerker!
    • Easily one of the most gut-wrenching parts is the shot that comes after this, just before the credits. We zoom out of Freeze in his cell and see Batman standing on an adjacent building, watching him silently. He doesn't say anything, simply because there's nothing that you can say about this situation. It's nothing but a tragedy.
    • What makes it even worse is that, in this episode specifically, Freeze's wife Nora was meant to be dead already. Due to censorship reasons, the producers weren't allowed to state this, but it was implied in how Freeze acts. He doesn't act like a man trying to save someone, rather trying to get vengeance for something he's lost. In later episodes, it was revealed that Nora survived, with adaptations like Batman & Robin and Batman: Arkham City taking the route that says Freeze is committing crimes to fund research to save Nora, which adds a light at the end of the tunnel of sorts for Freeze. But in "Heart of Ice"? She's already dead. If you've never considered that before, re-watch the episode and listen to everything Freeze says. He talks about the pain of loss, how it feels to lose something so dear to you. And just to hammer the point home; scroll up and read the quote under the image one more time, and consider that Nora is dead, and Freeze is talking about the afterlife. God dammit, that's painful.
  • The show's Signature Scene in "Nothing to Fear", which acts as a codifier for the entire series. Bruce, as Batman, is exposed to the Scarecrow's fear toxin and, while hanging for his life from a blimp, sees a vision of his dead father which he rejects. It's a Moment of Awesome and surprisingly moving.
    Vision of Thomas Wayne: are a disgrace.
    Batman: No. No! You are not my father! I am not a disgrace! I am vengeance. I am the night. I AM BATMAN!
  • As much as it is Narm (albeit purposefully), Joker legitimately mourning Captain Clown and then furiously berating Batman for crushing him down to a cube with a hydraulic press in The Last Laugh.
    Joker: (appalled) You killed Captain Clown... (yelling) YOU KILLED CAPTAIN CLOWN!
  • Poor, poor Mary Dahl aka Baby Doll. "Why couldn't you just let me make believe?!"
    • For further explanation: Mary Dahl is an actress who was Not Allowed to Grow Upliterally. She suffers from systemic hypoplasia, a rare disorder that completely stunted her growth and doomed her to look like a five-year-old child forever. She initially found success on a sitcom called Love That Baby, but when the ratings failed, so did her career—no one would cast her in anything because of her childlike appearance. The rejection, coupled with her physical condition, drives Dahl insane and leads her to assume the persona of "Baby Doll," a deadly little girl. Dahl eventually becomes so desperate to recapture the only happy memories she ever had that she kidnaps the actors from Love That Baby and forces them to return to the studio for a "reunion." After Batman gets involved, Baby Doll leads him on a chase through a fairground, where, in a hall of mirrors, she encounters a reflection of the woman she truly is—a beautiful, thirty-something actress who looks her own age. Upon seeing it, Dahl realizes that her entire life is "made-up and pretend," and goes on a wild rampage, shooting mirror after mirror in a desperate attempt to defeat Batman. As she turns to the mirror that contains her adult reflection, she starts to silently cry as she utterly destroys it. Batman then approaches her as she stares into space, clicking her now-empty gun and helplessly sobbing like a little girl. She presses herself against Batman's leg, weeping for the future she'll never have and the past she can't go back to, and utters her old catchphrase from her show: "I... didn't mean to."
      • When Batman gives the villain a downplayed Cooldown Hug, you know it falls into this category.
    • And consider this: We have the Caped Crusader, robbed of his childhood, comforting an actress who can't escape hers.
    • And then when she came back, returning to a life of crime because she thought Killer Croc loved her...only to find out Croc was, true to form, playing her for a sucker the whole while. It sent her so far over the Despair Event Horizon that she decided to wipe out all of Gotham via nuclear meltdown.
    • In the original ending of "Baby-Doll", Batman would have shed a tear while comforting Baby Doll before handing her over to the police. They cut it because DC said Batman isn't allowed to cry.
  • "Growing Pains," where Robin helps a scared amnesiac girl named Annie run away from a super-strong man. Turns out the man is Clayface and Annie is actually a part of him that he's trying to have merge back with him.
    • Robin's reaction to this reveal; he tells Annie he's going to save her. Her response is "Save what? I'm not real." Just then despairing resignation in her voice, and Robin's vehement denials that she is real.
    • Clayface succeeds in absorbing Annie when she tackles him to save Robin. Robin can only watch, and then threaten Clayface with lethal solvents to bring her back. Clayface reveals he can't, which means he effectively murdered his child.
      Gotham Policeman: We'll book him on the robberies and B & E, right? Anything else?
      Robin: Yeah. Murder.
    • It was worse if you actually read the comics at the time. At that point, Tim/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," "House & 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 the Riddler, maybe.
  • The show's re-imagining of Jervis Tetch/Mad Hatter. In the comics and Adam West series, he was a gimmicky villain with an Alice in Wonderland theme. Here, he's depicted as a lonely genius who's developing Mind Control technology for Wayne Enterprises, but his immediate supervisor treats him like dirt. Tetch falls hard for Alice, a secretary at the company who's the only one to treat him pleasantly, but she has a boyfriend named Billy. Jervis refuses to infringe on their relationship... but when she has a fight with Billy, he sees his chance. He plans to woo Alice, but decides that she would never fall for someone like him; he instead develops the Hatter persona to impress her, giving her a grand night on the town, albeit toeing the Moral Event Horizon by using his technology to brainwash people, thus creating the illusion that he's a wealthy high-society gentleman. Unfortunately, he is shut down when Billy comes back into the picture with an apology and a proposal. Enraged, Tetch crosses the line firmly by mind-controlling Billy into breaking off the engagement, then abducting and brainwashing Alice. He's eventually bested by Batman in an Alice in Wonderland theme park. Then, as Tetch is lying beneath the claws of the Jabberwock, he's forced to watch as Alice (who can't even bear to look at Tetch anymore) runs into Billy's arms, moaning out very softly...
    • Somehow made even sadder by the final shot of the weeping Mock Turtle statue.
    • What makes it worse is that we get to see Tetch's mental breakdown over the whole situation. At the beginning of the episode, he admits that, from a sensible perspective, his interest in Alice is wrong and that he should let her go... but he simply can't. When he briefly brags that his mind control devices could easily make her forget Billy, he stops himself and remarks that brainwashing her in that way would be cruel ("That would reduce her to a soulless shell... no. Not my Alice"). Unfortunately, the combination of briefly believing that he finally has a shot, using his devices on actual human subjects, and being rejected again breaks his mind. By the end of the episode, he's completely reversed his previous position and become a violent, obsessive psychopath deeply in denial, blaming Batman for what's happened to Alice.
      Tetch/Hatter: I'll cut that cowl off your neck before you'll take her! I've waited my whole lonely life for her!!
      Batman: Then all you've waited for is a puppet! [Tetch briefly hesitates] A soulless little doll!
      Tetch/Hatter: It didn't have to be this way! You made me do this to her!
      • Taken even darker in "Trial" where he admitted that if he couldn't have her, he would as soon kill her. When that confession is compared with his early remark about refusing to even consider brainwashing Alice, we realize just how far Tetch has gone. He even looks legitimately horrified after he realizes what he's said.
    • Saying Mad Hatter had a tragic backstory when he obsessed over a girl and didn't respect that she only liked him as a friend is really pushing it, although she never made it explicit that she only liked him as a friend and seemed equally oblivious while out on their "date" after she and Billy had broken up. It's also possible that she simply didn't see Tetch as a possible suitor at all, instead misinterpreting his kindness as the actions of a good friend... whether or not that makes it worse is up to you.
      • YMMV, but it's not entirely unreasonable to sympathize with a lonely person who gets picked on by their boss and has an unrequited crush. He handles it extremely poorly, and that's what makes him a villain, but where we see him at the beginning of the episode is a relatable place for a lot of people. And made far worse when Paul Dini revealed that this version of the Hatter was based on a man who'd committed a workplace shooting for similar reasons.
        Dini: With the Hatter, I made somebody who is technologically brilliant, but who lives in this dream world and was probably ridiculed as a kid; everybody used to call him names because he looked geeky and looked like the Mad Hatter. He actually had a poster of the Mad Hatter up. He liked Alice in Wonderland. When he came up with a way of controlling people, suddenly, they were able to do his will, and he loved it, and he was able to bring his fantasies of Wonderland and living happily ever after to life. But the main reason he did it was he was in love with somebody, and he didn't want to use that power to control her because he knew that he'd lose her, but ultimately, he had to. That drove him over the edge and drove him crazy, so there's an element of sorrow to that character—unrequited love taken to the nth degree.
    • By "The Worry Men," Tetch has completely embraced his Mad Hatter persona, which reduces him to petty thievery. Batman Lampshades this.
  • Dick's farewell to his circus friends in "Robin's Reckoning: Part 1" has always brought tears to Bruce Timm's eyes.
    • While Dick's parents' death is pretty strong, what's really strong is Bruce and Dick's flashback talk near the end of Part 1, 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]
    • The ending for Robin's Reckoning: Part 2. A humbled Robin tells Batman that he understands that Batman didn't want him working Zucco's case because Batman knew Robin would take the case too personally and possibly kill Zucco. Batman then tells Robin the real reason he didn't want Robin involved: he didn't want to think of Robin being killed by Zucco after Zucco had already killed Robin's parents. Batman's fear was the fear of a father for the life of his son.
  • "Deep Freeze" has two particular moments, the first being where Victor, having finally found the means to cure Nora, realizes that he has to give it up so that she won't lose the world she loved. The second is where he decides that he'd rather stay behind in Oceana to die with her than save himself.
    Freeze: We're together love...
    • And there's the part where he tries to talk Walker out of the procedure.
      Freeze: You want to live like this? Abandoned and alone? A prisoner in a world you can see, but never touch? Old and infirm as you are, I'd trade a thousand of my frozen years for your worst day.
      • In "Cold Comfort," Freeze finally realizes his dream of Nora being revived, except at this point he's a complete shell of his former self, thinks himself too much of a freak to reveal himself to her, and can only watch from the shadows as his former wife (possibly an amnesiac at this point) falls in love with her doctor; all of this shatters any humanity he had left.
  • "Old Wounds" is one of the worse tearjerkers in the DCAU as it shows the events leading up to Dick's split from Bruce/Batman. The worst part is if you go back and watch the 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 ideologies, 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 isn't 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 the elderly Bruce will occasionally reminisce about past adventures with Barbara and Tim, he never talks about Dick. In one episode where Terry asks to borrow a suit, he comes across a coat with initials on the inside.
    Terry: (sees initials in coat) Who's "D.G."?
    (Bruce walks off without answering)
    • Worse still, Bruce is noticeably colder with Tim than he was with Dick. He obviously cares for Tim, but their relationship never had the father/son vibe that Bruce had with Dick. It's not until late in Batman Beyond with Terry that we see Bruce start to have that sort of trust and fatherly relationship again.
      • This could also be a tearjerker for a different reason. Before being taken in by Bruce, Dick was raised by loving parents, but Tim's father was a neglectful lowlife. Bruce/Batman, who was always a master at reading people, saw that Tim would only respond to a father figure who was cold and distant.
    • Also one thing that many people very likely missed is a certain detail when Tim becomes Robin. He borrows Dick's suit that Batman keeps on display, but Dick being an adult, it shouldn't fit Tim. That's because the suit on display is kid-sized. In other words, Bruce had happier memories with Dick as a kid than an adult, which is why he put that suit on display rather than the adult one.
    • There's also the part where we see Dick was gonna propose to Barbara. But then he finds out that Barbara is Batgirl and have secretly been working with Batman. Dick was so upset with this revelation that he broke-up with her. Despite the Will They or Won't They? moments since he returned as Nightwing, they obviously never got back together as shown in Batman Beyond.
  • 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. The Hatter is quite mad, but it's delivered with such anguish...
    Batman: Why. Why did you do it? Why?
    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!
    • 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 is tear-inducing.
  • "See No Evil," aside from being prime horror. We have Lloyd Ventrix, 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, Ventrix is 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.
    • The scene where Batman tells Lloyd’s ex-wife Helen what’s going on, which makes her realize who "Mojo" really is. She runs into her house to check on Kimberly, only to find to her horror that’s it’s too late. The window to Kimberly’s room is wide open, and Kimberly is gone. Helen desperately crying out her daughter’s name before breaking down in tears in gut-wrenching.
    • While Lloyd is a criminal and a kidnapper, his motivations are rather sympathetic compared to Batman's usual rogues. He wanted to be involved in his daughter's life, but he's spent far too long a criminal to even try and have a normal life, so he used the suit to pose as her imaginary friend to get close to her. Unfortunately, the suit's toxicity affects his mind, causing him to become far more destructive and terrifying that when his daughter runs away from him after finding out who he is, it's too late for him to fix anything or give in. Kimmy tells Batman they'll be moving away from Gotham where her father will never find them, so Lloyd's ruined any chance of being with his daughter.
  • It's impossible to not get teary-eyed in the ending of the episode (and Trope Namer) "Mad Love." Poor Harley Quinn.
    • The tearjerker value of any episode featuring the Joker mistreating Harley will be increased after seeing "Mad Love."
    • And it goes From Bad to 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!
      • The original comic had a more haunting line that was more direct in the passive-aggressive battered wife syndrome parallels (and the final line is an homage to the song "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss"), the musical Carousel, and the stage play Lilliom that explores those dark themes:
        Dr. Leland: So, tell me, Harley—how did it feel to be so dependent on a man that you'd give up everything for him, gaining nothing in return? [leaves]
        Harley: [bitterly] It felt like...
        [sees flower with "Feel better soon - J"]
        Harley: [dreamily] It felt like a kiss.
    • "Mad Love" is probably one of the greatest episodes in the series because it doesn't back down on abusive relationships. 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 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.
      • The animators and writers taking their time in fleshing out Harley before this episode is a reminder that people who are trapped in the cycle of abuse are real people with hopes, dreams, and unique personalities who fell in love with the wrong person. Fridge Horror sets in when you learn that some abuse victims end up severely injured or even dead.
  • Bruce's guilt-fueled dream in "Two-Face, Part 2." "Why couldn't you save us, son?"
    • The Two-Face arc is 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 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, then flipping the coin in as it lands heads up. The arc rivals "Heart of Ice" for the biggest Tear Jerker of the series.
      Two Face: [Just after Batman throws a bunch of coins up in the air, making Two Face lose track of his coin ] NO!!!! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?! My coin! Where is it?! I can't decide without...OH NO! It's gotta be here! It's gotta!! GRAAHH!!! I HAVE TO HAVE IT!!! RAAAAAAHH!!!! RAHHHH!!!! GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! [breaks down sobbing].
    • Bruce's line "I will save you" after having the nightmare of Harvey and his parents is a huge Tear Jerker for two reasons. One for people who have read the comics before and know that there's no real hope for Harvey. And the second is for people who have loved ones suffering from severe mental illness and know that they can't save their loved ones from their inner demons as much as they long to.
    • And how about the very last time we see Harvey? He goes even crazier and develops a second alternate personality called The Judge, a personality so separate from his "normal" ones that it tries to kill him. Batman stops him eventually and sends Harvey back to Arkham. We see Harvey in his cell, in a straitjacket, as he plays out a court scene with himself on trial, 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..."
      • And this IS (was) the last time Harvey Dent appears in the entire DCAU, aside from an alternate universe version, leaving the viewer with the impression that he spent the rest of his life in that cell, saying nothing else.
      • Justice League vs. The Fatal Five offers an extremely small ray of hope - he’s still in Arkham Asylum post JLU, but Harvey seems to be somewhat in control, and tries to help Starboy fit in.
    • What was notable about this show was that the transformation episode was not Harvey's first appearance in the series. He was a recurring character in a few episodes that showed him to be an honest man working for the good of Gotham and a great friend to Bruce Wayne. This made the events of "Two-Face" even more heartbreaking.
  • "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 it's 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. All in all, let's just say there's a reason it's said no parent should ever have to bury their child.
  • "Feat of Clay"
    Matt Hagen: I'm not an actor anymore, Teddy. I'm not even... a man.
    • The final confrontation in Part 2. Batman defeats Clayface by showing him headshots and production photos from his ruined acting career, which confuses his transformation ability and sends it out of control. To stop it, Clayface rips into a nearby control panel and electrocutes himself. He collapses and, for a moment, changes from the monstrous Clayface to the handsome Matt Hagen. Then he morphs into his disfigured post-accident face, the face he started all of this to try to get rid of. In the end, it's still the face he ends up dying with. His death ends up being a "scene", but in the moment, it's extremely heart-wrenching.
  • Clayface's final moments in "Mudslide." As his only hope of redeeming himself or ever being human again melts away, he miserably looks up at Batman and admits defeat:
    Clayface: 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 Dr. Emile Dorian, a deranged geneticist, and his creation, a cat-man hybrid named Tygrus. Dr. Dorian has Selina Kyle/Catwoman kidnapped to be transformed into Tygrus' mate. One can be forgiven for being indifferent towards the creature at the start, but then you find out he's sentient and capable of speech, he thinks of Dorian as his father, and pretty much the only reason he's an antagonist in the episode is because Dorian told 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 Dorian, who ultimately blames Selina for "ruining" Tygrus and tries to shoot her. This, in turn, angers Tygrus enough to turn on Dorian, and he proceeds to tear the lab apart while Dorian desperately tries to calm him.
    Dorian: I only wanted you to be strong, to show no weakness, no pity!
    Tygrus: As you wish, Father!
    • Upon being confronted once and for all with the reality that Selina definitely does not want to remain a cat-person, he gives her the canister with the antidote 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 delivered in a voice completely devoid of emotion, which somehow makes it even more depressing:
    Tygrus: There's nothing for me anywhere.
    • And this setting could have provided the perfect opening for Shazam!'s Mr. Tawky Tawny in the DCAU; a tiger man who refused to surrender to Tygrus' despair and sought out human society.
  • There are scenes throughout the series that make it pretty clear just how strongly Bruce feels that his parents' deaths were his fault.
    • A great example of that is when Batman returns to the spot where his parents were shot with Dr. Leslie Thompkins, the woman who originally helped to comfort him as a child.
  • "Birds of a Feather": You will pity the Penguin. In this episode, Oswald Cobblepot is released, fully intending to retire from crime...and finding that, without his criminal friends, his life is pretty void of companionshipnote . He meets up with Veronica Vreeland, a shallow former Love Interest of Bruce Wayne's, and a male friend named Pierce Chapman (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 Veronica 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, Veronica 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 Pierce about having second thoughts about the entire thing.
    • This line from Penguin, after he realizes he's been had and kidnaps Veronica and Pierce in revenge:
      Veronica: Oswald, if it's money you want, I can get you more...
      Penguin: SHUT UP! All I wanted from you, dearie, was a little friendship. [sadly] That would have cost you nothing.
    • The look on Veronica's face when the Penguin delivers his closing line while being arrested. The guilt she feels is going to haunt her for a long time.
  • 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 "Pretty Poison," 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 "House and Garden," 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.
      • Somehow, it manages to get even worse. While Pamela does retire from being Poison Ivy at that point, she leaves behind one last vegetable creature to pose as her in Gotham to distract Batman and keep Harley company, accounting for her change in appearance in-between the two series. At one point during a fight with Batgirl, the new Ivy is hit with weedkiller and finds herself breaking down. She attempts to seek out help for what is happening to her and...
  • Selina 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.
    • Bullock doesn't make things any better. He tells Batman he should have been there for him and that Gordon was counting on him, even saying that Batman is just as responsible as Gordon's shooter. Feeling more depressed, Batman swings away. And Bullock tells him it's not over, "I ain't talking about law! It's about you and me!" Though Bullock seems like an insensitive jerk, he truly cares about Gordon as Batman does. His anger stems from his belief that Batman causes more harm than good to the city.
  • In "Sideshow," Killer 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."
    • The sheer heartbreak of the seal boy, and the other well-meaning ex-carnies, upon finding the peace of their village being violated, is pretty depressing unto itself. They seemed so happy to find a new friend.
  • Tim overhearing that his father is dead in "Sins of the Father."
  • "Mean Seasons." The reveal that Calendar Girl's face is perfectly normal and beautiful, but she's so psychologically screwed up from the way the modelling industry treated her that she only sees the flaws in it.
    • Made even worse with the Reality Subtext, as Sela Ward, who voiced Calendar Girl, was told the exact same thing when auditioning to become a Bond Girlnote  (though, thankfully, she didn't go crazy as a result).
      Batgirl: She's beautiful.
      Batman: She can't see that anymore. All she sees are the flaws.
  • "His Silicon Soul." Once again, the writers took something that could have easily been another stock superhero show story and made it into something poignant and tragic. Duplicant!Batman is an Iron Woobie, you can't help but feel sorry for him/it. But especially, especially when the Duplicant's tomato gets squashed flat.
    Rossum: You don't understand. You're not a man's mind in a robot's body. You're a robot. Period.
    Duplicant!Batman: You're lying! It's not possible! I know my family and friends! I remember names, faces, birthdays! I have memories! A past!
    Rossum: You have information. Data. Nothing more. Do you remember your first kiss? Your favorite song? The last time you tasted a really good steak?
    • Made worse when he believes he killed Bruce and is stricken by guilt. Realizing the scheme HARDAC built him to complete will kill many more people, he sacrifices himself to foil it. Bruce wonders if this meant the duplicate had a soul of his own.
      Duplicant!Batman: NOOOOOO!! I've taken a life! I've killed a man. [goes back to the Batcomputer, which HARDAC has almost finished uploading itself into] My people... What have I done!?... NO!!! [destroys the computer]
      [Later, while Bruce and Alfred clean up]
      Bruce: It seems it was more than wires and microchips after all. Could it be it had a soul, Alfred? A soul of silicon, but a soul nonetheless?
    • Before the two above-mentioned scenes, there's Alfred fearfully backing away from Duplicant!Batman, assuming that something terrible has happened to Bruce shortly after discovering the duplicant in the library. When the duplicant starts moving toward Alfred again, Alfred attempts to attack the duplicant, but the duplicant catches Alfred's weapon and tosses it aside, trying to assure Alfred that it's really him. The duplicant pleads with Alfred to help him find out how he ended up as a robot, but Alfred activates the secret passage to the Batcave and flees inside, ignoring the duplicant's pleas.
      Alfred: [begins slowly backing away from Duplicant!Batman] You're one of Rossum's duplicants!
      Duplicant!Batman: Duplicants? What do you mean? [begins approaching Alfred]
      Alfred: What have you done with Master Bruce?! [attempts to strike the duplicant with the pendulum, but the duplicant grabs it and tosses it aside]
      Duplicant!Batman: Alfred, it's me! I need your help. I have to find out what's happened to me. [Alfred begins backing toward the clock as the duplicant begins moving toward him again] I'm not going to last long like this! [Alfred backs into the clock, then reaches around the clock and feels around for the switch to activate the passage before he finds it and presses it. He edges around the opening clock and into the passage] Alfred, wait. Please!
      • This scene is made even more tragic since, copy or not, the Duplicant Batman truly thought he was the real deal and seeing something that thought he was the real Batman BEGGING Alfred for help and not to leave him is very sad to see, especially since Alfred is Bruce's oldest companion and the one he trusts most.
  • Any origin story. The BTAS villains are tragic.
  • Re-watching the series after viewing Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Seeing Tim as a happy, cheerful kid and knowing what the Joker does to him is painful.
  • A blink-and-you-miss-it example, but in "Christmas with the Joker," when Robin can't believe Batman has never seen It's a Wonderful Life, Batman responds that he "couldn't get past the title screen." It says an awful lot about Bruce's life that he can't stand a movie title that literally says a wonderful life. Though after seeing it, he admit it has its moments.
  • In the episode "Chemistry," Bruce has fallen in love. He tries to explain what he's going through to his partners:
    Bruce: Everything's changed for me in the past few weeks. The pain of my parents' deaths... It's still there, but it seems smaller. And there's a new feeling now.
    Barbara: Which would be?
    Bruce: It's a lightness. A sense that things will work out for the best.
    Tim: It's called happiness.
    Bruce: Whatever it is, I like it.
    • At first it's funny, as Bruce regards happiness as a completely foreign emotion. Then you realize that Bruce regards happiness as a completely foreign emotion.
  • In "Paging the Crime Doctor," Bruce pays the bail for Matthew Thorne, a disgraced doctor (who used to be friends with fellow doctors Thomas Wayne and Leslie Thompkins) with the misfortune of having a crime lord for a brother, asking only that Thorne tell him about his father.
  • Maxie Zeus's backstory is also pretty tragic. In this version, he has no "dark origin story" or Moral Event Horizon, and he isn't even really evil. He was just a regular businessman who seemed to have gone into delusional insanity overnight, though for one second he seemed to have snapped back to normal only for his insanity to take over again.
    • Getting electrocuted by his own weapon and falling on his head seems to have driven him permanently into insanity. When he's sent to Arkham, he believes he's returned home to the 'true' Olympus.
    • The story is even more tragic for his girlfriend Clio. She truly loves him and remembers the times when he was still normal (as shown in her picture of them), but she is powerless to help him and forced to watch his sanity deteriorate. The worst part? During the climax, she nearly manages to get through him and for a brief moment, Maxie seems to come back to his senses... only for the Zeus personality to take over.
  • "It's Never Too Late," the episode about the crime boss and his priest brother. Seeing the flashback of how the priest lost his leg.
    • As well as Arnold Stromwell's (the mob boss) horrified expression when he has said flashback and the way he ends up bursting into tears in his brother's arms. You can clearly see that the guy never forgave himself for the accident that cost the leg of his brother.
    • In general, this episode can make you sad for Stromwell in a Jerkass Woobie/Alas, Poor Villain kind of way. This guy is a textbook case of Being Evil Sucks. He's a powerful crime boss, has money and power. Good for him. His empire is also crumbling because of the rise of Thorne's own criminal empire, he's divorced from his wife, estranged from his brother, and he is later horrified to find that his son has become sick because of the drugs his own organization was selling. At least, his story ends on a rather happy note, as he's convinced by Batman and his brother to surrender to the police and close down his empire. He may end up in prison, but he's now at peace with himself and ready to make amends.
  • In "Harley's Holiday," it's pretty unfortunate that Harley was declared cured and released from Arkham perfectly ready to start a new life. Only for one tiny misunderstanding note  to undo all of it within ten minutes.
  • "Beware the Gray Ghost": During Bruce's childhood, his idol and hero was The Gray Ghost who was portrayed by Simon Trent. But now, Simon is a man living in poverty in a one-room apartment, unable to find any work because people only think of him as The Gray Ghost and don't take him seriously. After hearing he's been turned down again, he angrily shatters the picture of him as The Gray Ghost and knocks over merchandise and mementos he had kept from his glory days before collapsing to the floor sobbing. The fact that he's voiced by Adam West probably doesn't help.
    • In fact, the whole episode was written for West to drive that nail in. Bruce Timm has stated that if they hadn't been able to get West to do the role, they'd have scrapped the whole episode.
    • Trent's line "So, it wasn't all for nothing..." is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, especially with West's passing in 2017.
  • "The Forgotten" had a surprisingly effective moment where Bruce has a dream where he's walking through a homeless neighborhood and stops to give cash to some of the nearby people. Soon, more join in, begging for cash, leading Bruce to simply stop and shed a tear at the realization that he can't help them all. It really humanizes Bruce and drives home his sense of guilt and responsibility for the people he's unable to help, not just as Batman either.
    • That's by no means the only moment: When Riley and the amnesiac Bruce are stuck in the Box, slowly roasting alive in the desert sun, Riley begins to have an emotional breakdown, crying about how he's beginning to forget things about his family and how he's never going to see them again. Then, this outburst gives Bruce's subconscious the last piece of the puzzle it needs, and he remembers himself as a child with his parents, only for the happy memory to be subsumed by their looming, disintegrating headstone.
    • Additionally, Fridge Horror sets in hard when you remember the horrifically cruel and unsafe conditions in the camp. Lethal cave-ins? A regular thing. That guy Boss Biggis made an example of? Almost certainly dead.
  • "Showdown": The restrained sadness in Ras' voice, as he explains that he took too long to find his son, who is now ailing and beyond his means to restore.
  • Man-Bat's sudden shift from ferocious snarling to cringing shame, when Francine enters the lab to find her transformed husband attacking Batman. Bestial or not, Kirk's alter-ego still cares for her and clearly can't stand to have his wife see him like that.
  • "Read My Lips." The dynamic between the ventriloquist (a heretofore unnamed Arnold Wesker) and his Split Personality Scarface, channeled through his dummy, is unquestionably a bizarre thing to watch play out. And yet this, their debut episode, ends in a tragic moment, when in the scuffle between Batman and Scarface's Mooks, the Scarface dummy is practically disintegrated by gunfire intended for Batman. The ventriloquist reacts with a blood-curdling scream, and collapses to the floor, holding whatever is left of Scarface, and crying his eyes out at the loss of his "boss." Suddenly, this isn't some weird spectacle anymore; it's the heartbreaking anguish of a man with serious issues, at a Despair Event Horizon, and in desperate need of professional help. (As the Bittersweet Ending makes painfully clear.)
  • While the episode leans heavily more towards the comedic, "The Man Who Killed Batman" hits a lot differently after the death of Kevin Conroy on November 10, 2022.
    • Joker's reaction when even he starts to believe Batman is dead is especially hard to watch, knowing how close Mark Hamill and Kevin were in real life.
      Joker: Without Batman… crime has no punchline.