"The Last Laugh" is the fifteenth episode of the first season of Batman: The Animated Series. It's April Fool's Day and Joker unleashes a supply of laughing gas on Gotham City, incapacitating its populace and allowing him to steal things at his leisure. Only Batman, equipped with a gas mask, manages to escape its effects.
It's April Fool's Day in Gotham and a barge captained by a robotic clown and carrying green garbage that emits green gas floats over the river. An armored truck driver smells the gas and starts laughing and driving erratically. More people smell the gas and start laughing as well. The victims seem to have lost all sense as the truck driver drives his truck right into the river.
Elsewhere, Bruce cuts himself shaving and Alfred notes that he's tired from his crime fighting. To help him relax Alfred tries playing an April Fools joke on Bruce but it falls flat. While Bruce takes a shower, he hears a report on the radio about people who are having nearly fatal accidents on the bridge due to them acting like complete fools. Bruce deduces right away that it's the work of the Joker.
Meanwhile, Joker's henchmen dive and steal the contents of the armored truck while Joker fixes himself up to go out towards the financial district. Once the ship has docked Joker and his men go out with shopping carts and gas masks (or in Joker’s case, a fishbowl) and start stealing from the people and the stores in the area. The people are so busy laughing and dancing around that they do nothing to stop it.
While Joker and his men go on their shopping spree, Batman does an analysis of the gas and learns that prolonged exposure will result in permanent insanity. Batman calls up Alfred for help but Alfred blows him off. At first, Batman thinks it's just a joke but he hears crashing and runs upstairs to find that Alfred has been exposed to the gas, and is destroying most of the library in his lunacy. Quickly donning a gas mask, Batman realizes that he must stop the gas before it's too late.
Things only get better for Joker as the stocks have crashed and his profits have risen. However, Batman drags the scow out to sea with the Batboat and boards it. Joker's first two henchmen are dealt with easily enough but the "Captain" of the ship tears the tow cable in two with his bare hands and attacks Batman. When Batman hits him he only hurts himself as the captain is made of metal. Captain Clown grabs Batman and spins him over his head until Batman is too dizzy to fight back. Batman is then shoved into a canister, holes are poked into it, and he's thrown into the ocean. Water fills the canister and Batman nearly drowns but he manages to call the Batboat and has it cut through the canister.
Joker returns to the junkyard and sprays more of his toxin on the garbage. Fortunately, Batman arrives and cuts the hoses pumping out the toxin. He then removes the henchmen's masks and they fall over laughing. Captain Clown attempts to stop Batman and even though Batman grabs a metal pole, the robot is too strong for him. Not ready to give up, Batman manages to lure the robot into a car crusher and crushes it into a small cube. Joker is outraged and dumps a load of garbage onto his enemy. Batman survives and follows the Joker over the conveyor belt only to find that it leads into a vat of molten metal. He manages to grab hold of a hanging bucket but Joker starts swinging cabled hooks at him. Batman grabs hold of one of the hooks but Joker pulls a lever and causes the hook to drop. Fortunately, Batman manages to grab hold of some gears and catch up to the Joker but Joker escapes down a slide and swings on a cable to reach a catwalk. Batman is not so fortunate and is almost dumped into an incinerator. Joker drops garbage down the chute and Batman almost falls into the fire but he manages to save himself with a grapnel and confronts Joker. Joker throws a couple of his razor cards at him but Batman dodges the first and catches the second. Frightened, Joker tries to run, but he trips on a cable and nearly falls into the fire but the cable saves him. He calls to Batman to save him and he contemplates letting him fall, but in the end saves him.
Things have finally quieted down and Bruce returns home to find Alfred cleaning up the mess he made. Alfred is upset over his destruction of the property and Bruce tells him that he'll take it out of his salary. Alfred is even more upset to hear this but then Bruce tells him "April Fools".
- First appearance of the Batboat.
- When Batman comes up from the Batcave to check on Alfred, he exits through an open bookcase. This entrance is used on only one other occasion, when Randa Duane discovers the cave in "Heart of Steel". In all further appearances, the entrance is the grandfather clock that Alfred was smashing.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Legend Begins (VHS)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Legend Begins (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Part 2 (Blu-ray only)
- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Deluxe Edition (Blu-ray)
- The computer readout describing the gas misspells "airborne" as "air born".
- The newspaper delivery van at the very top of the episode bears a Gotham Globe logo, but the newspaper it delivers is the Gotham News.
- When the Joker slides down the garbage chute, he first jumps down feet-first, but he comes down head-first at the next scene.
- After Batman rushes upstairs and sees Alfred exposed to the gas, he apparently breathes it, coughs, and quickly puts his gas mask on. However, it is shown earlier that the gas has an immediate effect once it's inhaled, so the same thing should have happened to Batman.
- This episode's theme riff would later be reused for the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Father's Day".
- This episode is the first episode produced with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Alfred; he would continue in the role until Alfred's final appearance in the Justice League finale "Starcrossed".
- After dumping Batman underwater, Joker turns to Captain Clown and says, "Well, Captain, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship!"—a reference to the classic film Casablanca.
- When Batman emerges onto the Joker's ship with a breathing apparatus and stares right into Joker's periscope, he unconsciously ends up parodying Darth Vader from Star Wars via the breathing apparatus and the breath that was heard. Coincidentally, Joker's voice actor, Mark Hamill, previously portrayed Vader's nemesis and son, Luke Skywalker, from the original trilogy.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne/Batman|
|Bob Hastings|| Armored Car Driver|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
|Mari Devon||Summer Gleeson|
Alfred: Well, you'll be happy to know I've drawn you a bath, whenever you're ready.
Joker: When the going gets tough... the tough go shopping.
Batman: Alfred, I left the hex key upstairs in the den. Would you bring it down?
Joker: Now this is what I call a sidewalk sale!
Alfred: (Laughing uncontrollably) I believe I've contracted a giant case of the giggles!
Summer Gleeson: I'm here in Downtown Gotham where corporate CEOs have gone stark raving mad. It would appear the collapse of the stock market is now imminent. The question is: Will April Fools Day mark the end of Gotham City as we know it?
Joker: You killed Captain Clown... YOU KILLED CAPTAIN CLOWN! Just for that, Batman...
Joker: (gleeful) Justice is best served hot, Batman! You're going to melt just like a grilled cheese sandwich!
Batman: Clean up your act, Joker!
Alfred: I destroy a priceless Ming vase, and you ask me what's wrong?