"The Man Who Killed Batman" is the fifty-first episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It first aired on February 1, 1993.
As rain pours down on Gotham City, a man hurriedly runs through the streets. As he runs, a newspaper flies by with the headline: BATMAN SLAIN? Mysterious Crimefighter Missing. The man finally arrives at Rupert Thorne's house. He gets inside and introduces himself — but Thorne already knows who he is — Sidney Debris, "The Man Who Killed Batman". Sidney, however, doesn't appreciate the fame, because now everyone wants to kill or fight him. So Sidney tells his story...
Sidney was an average, two-bit crook who wanted to move up in the underworld, and agreed to go on a drug run as a lookout. A gangster named Eddie G. gives Sidney a nickname called Sid "The Squid". The other mobsters, however, see Sidney as bait for the Batman to snap up while the rest of them flee. Unfortunately, the Batman does show up, and tackles Sidney. Sidney is terrified and clumsy, but the other mobsters, watching their exaggerated shadows from afar, believe that Sidney is fighting Batman.
Suddenly, Sid falls off the roof, and Batman grabs one of his hands. Beneath them, a dislodged brick punches a hole in a propane tank. In desperation, Sidney tries to climb up Batman's arm onto the building, throwing him off balance. As Sidney climbs onto the ledge, Batman falls down toward the gas tank, and there is a tremendous explosion. Sidney emerges from the blast carrying Batman's cape and cowl, and the mobsters are stunned to see Sidney has done the impossible: He has killed the Batman.
In jubilation, the rest of the underworld hold a celebration for his death and toast the now-successful Sidney, but a tough fighter challenges Sidney, leading to a huge barroom fight until the police arrive. The group of criminals end up in jail where Harvey Bullock, visibly upset, breaks the news to Renee Montoya that Batman has been killed, and asks her to check on a depressed Commissioner Gordon. Luckily for Sidney however, a blonde woman claiming to be his lawyer (who looks familiar to Bullock) announces that she has posted his bail, and the two leave. Once in the car, the lawyer reveals herself to be Harley Quinn, which means that the Joker, who has planned a deadly ambush for Sidney as revenge for killing Batman, wants to see Sidney.
At the theater which serves as his gang's hideout, the Joker is delighted to meet him, but wants to test whether or not Batman is indeed dead. The Joker and Harley stage a museum robbery, and wait for the Batman. He doesn't show up, much to Joker's dismay. They leave without any jewels and Joker decides to take Sidney to the ambush.
The ambush (which is a funeral for Batman) is held in the chemical plant where the Joker was first created and it turns out to be fun, but not deadly. The coffin (which is a death trap for Sidney during the ambush) holds Batman's cape and cowl, to which Joker attaches a "Kick me" sign. As Joker delivers a eulogy (which is a speech to Sidney during the ambush) describing the death of the Joker's dream to kill Batman, wishing his jokes could have outsmarted his cold, equanimous logic, he denounces Sidney for doing it first.
When he is done, the two hoods place Sidney in the coffin, and the coffin is sent on a conveyor belt towards a vat of acid (which is part of the ambush's death trap), while Harley plays "Amazing Grace" on a kazoo. The Joker sheds a tear, but then immediately cheers up with a happy, "Well, that was fun. Who's for Chinese?" and he and his friends go off to celebrate the ambush of Sid.
Just as the acid seeps in, Sidney is apparently saved by getting sucked into a drainpipe. Winding up on the bank of the Gotham River, he knew he had to get out of town. Sidney calls Eddie G. who sets him up with Rupert Thorne to get him out of Gotham.
In the present, Sidney begs for a way to get out of town to avoid the Joker and other hoods. Thorne, however, doesn't buy his story, believing Sidney's trying to trick his way into his drug operation. After all, in one night he's killed Batman and outwitted the Joker, meaning he must really be a criminal genius.
As Thorne points a gun at Sidney, Batman suddenly arrives, completely unharmed, and knocks Thorne unconscious. Batman explains to Sidney that he faked his death and laid low for a while, observing what happened. Sidney realizes that Batman saved him from the Joker's ambush, and attempts to walk out. Batman stops him, explaining that he's still guilty as an accomplice to the drug run, but then points out that in prison, a man like Sidney would garner high respect, which should make his sentence more bearable.
As Sidney is led through prison, the inmates cheer him on for almost killing Batman, setting up Rupert Thorne, and making a fool out of the Joker. A pleased Sidney realizes his dream of making a name for himself.
- Harvey Bullock probably recognizes Harley without her harlequin makeup because she posed as a police officer at Commissioner Gordon's testimonial dinner in "Joker's Favor".
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Two (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (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)
- Harley uses her real name when posing as a lawyer, despite having been arrested already (and thus having the police department know her real name and identity). This hole was possibly made due to her real name, Harleen Quinzel, not being confirmed yet (or perhaps that Harley Quinn was meant to be her real name), thus, the writers used a name that sounded like her alias, which would eventually become her real identity.
- During the jewelry store heist, the Joker's henchmen are carrying machine guns, but they then change to shotguns.
- When Joker pinches Harley's cheek at the funeral scene, her normally blue eyes turn black. They revert to blue when Joker lets go.
- This episode was the first to use Harley Quinn's real name, Harleen Quinzel.
- The Ace Chemical Plant, where Joker ambushes Sidney, is the place where, according to several comics continuities, the Joker fell into a vat of toxic waste during his first meeting with the Batman and became who he is today. It appeared in the comics story Batman: The Killing Joke. This was later confirmed in the episode "Beware the Creeper".
- This episode reflects that the animated series has largely adopted the film's version of the Joker's origin. Likewise, in the episode Dreams in Darkness, Dr. Bartholomew refers to the Joker by his "real name" of Jack Napier, the name given to him in the film.
- The fight exaggerated by the shadows is perhaps a parody of the darkly lit fights in the opening sequence.
- The Joker makes a pun on the Latin term "corpus delicti" using the words "batus delecti" while wondering whether or not Batman is actually dead.
- In his eulogy for Batman at the start of the ambush for Sid, Joker opens with "Dear friends, today is The Day The Clown Cried..." a reference to the shelved Jerry Lewis film.
- Bruce Timm stated that the idea for the episode came when he and Dini debated on what it would be like if Batman was not present for the majority of the episode. Indeed, it is one of the most-acclaimed episodes of the series.
- Paul Dini was actually worried that people would think Harley playing Amazing Grace on a kazoo as the coffin containing Sidney is lowered into waste was sacrilegious, but nothing came out of it.
- The tune was performed by Arleen Sorkin, Harley's voice actress, in one take. In an interview, Dini stated that it was fortunate that Sorkin was able to complete the song in one take, as immediately after that, she and the remainder of the voice cast also broke into uncontrollable laughter, and "we'd have never gotten a second take of it".
- Sidney's nickname, "Sid the Squid", was apparently popular with the writers at Warner Bros. Animation at the time, as it was also used for one of the enemies of Animaniacs character Slappy Squirrel. It also appeared in the previous episode "Robin's Reckoning" as a past alias of Tony Zucco. The name "Squid" is improvised by Eddie G. when he notices the logo of a company called "Coburn Calamari"; "Killer Coburn" was another of Zucco's aliases.
- Harley playing the kazoo while the coffin rolls down into the acid during the ambush is a parody of the funeral for Mr. Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
- The idea that the Joker does not want Batman dead and enjoys fighting him time and time again is reminiscent of one often put forward in various DC continuities, most notably in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City.
- In Mark Hamill's introduction for the book "The Joker: A Visual History Of The Clown Prince Of Crime" (2011), he specifically mentioned the scene from this episode where Joker gave Batman's solemn eulogy, casually sent Sid to his death, and then said "Well, that was fun! Who's for Chinese?" Hamill credits both the scene and the line, "Without Batman, crime has no punchline", with being the single most significant moment to him "getting" the character of the Joker. Years later, Hamill would perform the eulogy in Star Wars Celebration VI.
|Robert Costanzo||Harvey Bullock|
|Mark Hamill||The Joker|
|Ingrid Oliu||Renee Montoya|
|Robert Picardo||Eddie G.|
|Arleen Sorkin||Harley Quinn|
|John Vernon||Rupert Thorne|
Bullock: Hey, don't I know you?
Joker: Without Batman, crime has no punchline.
Harley: You know what's great about you, puddin'? You really put the "fun" in "funeral".
Joker: Dear friends...Today is the day that the clown cried. And he cries not for the passing of one man, but for the death of a dream. The dream that he would someday taste the ultimate victory over his hated enemy. For it was the Batman who made me the happy soul I am today. How I agonized over the perfect way to thank him for that. Perhaps with a cyanide pie in the face. Or an exploding whoopee cushion playfully planted in the Batmobile. But those dreams were dashed by the weaselly little gunsel sitting there in our midst. The cowardly insignificant ganef who probably got lucky when Batman slipped on the slime trail this loser left behind him. This mound of diseased hyena filth who's not fit to lick the dirt from my spats!... But I digress. The time for sorrow has passed. It's time to look ahead to a future filled with smiles. And I'll be smiling again just as soon as we take that man there and slap him in that box there, and roll him into that vat of acid there!
Joker: (sighs heavily) Well, that was fun! Who's for Chinese?
Thorne: So the famous Sid the Squid is nothing but a pathetic victim of circumstance. Just how stupid do you think I am?
Thorne: Sure I'll get you out of Gotham, Sidney, in a pine box!
Batman: (slams Throne's arm on his desk) That's for pulling a gun. (throws Thorne across the room) That's for the drugs. (finally punches Thorne out cold) And that's for any I missed.
Sidney: Guess I can't win for losing, huh?
Sidney: A big shot at last!