"Trial" is the ninth episode of the second season of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on May 16, 1994. In a bizarre parody of a trial, Batman is kidnapped by his entire Rogues gallery, and put on trial, with the new district attorney who loathes him forced to act as his lawyer.
At her latest trial, Pamela Isley is sentenced to be returned to Arkham Asylum yet again. Gotham City's newest District Attorney, Janet Van Dorn, presses for life imprisonment, but the court's hands are tied by the fact that Poison Ivy was apprehended by Batman instead of a regular police officer.
When Ivy is returned to Arkham, Harley Quinn greets her enthusiastically, confiding that the inmates will be throwing a party soon, courtesy of the Mad Hatter, who has planted his mind control chips on the guards.
Janet's quoted on television as saying that Batman's a disgrace, claiming that he's the one who essentially created all of Gotham City's "super-criminals." She feels that Batman has made the city dependent on his myth, instead of facing the reality of what needs to be done to suppress crime.
That night, Janet and Bruce Wayne have a dinner date, but she's called away by a phone call. A short time later, the Bat-signal appears, and Batman receives a note from Commissioner Gordon informing him that the Janet has been kidnapped. He goes to the rendezvous, but is ambushed and knocked out.
Batman awakens in a straitjacket in a cell in Arkham, where Janet has also been taken. Two-Face welcomes her and informs her that, true to her words on television, Batman is going to be put on trial... by them. She will be his attorney. If she succeeds in defending him, they both go free. Failure will result in both their deaths.
An impromptu courtroom is set up in the operating theater:
- The Accused: Batman
- Bailiff: Ventriloquist & Scarface
- Prosecutor: Two-Face
- Defense Attorney: Janet Van Dorn
- Jury: The Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, the Scarecrow, the Riddler, and Harley Quinn
- Judge: The Joker
Batman stands before the court accused of "creating" each and every one of them: driving them to become criminals, freaks, and monsters. But Janet has studied the histories of the rogues thoroughly, and her defense is brilliant.
The Mad Hatter claims he was a harmless scientist, but admits that he was driven mad with love for his young assistant Alice, putting him on the path of crime. Harley thanks Batman for creating her loyal "puddin'", which Janet undermines by revealing that the last time she escaped from Arkham, the Joker ratted her out in hopes of reducing his own sentence. Ivy says it is Batman's fault she is a criminal, since her only crime would have been trying to kill the previous D.A. Harvey Dent, now Two-Face. However, Janet goads her into admitting the depth and violence of her botanophilic sentiments.
Batman urges her to keep the farce going, while elsewhere the police follow the clues he has left. After fixing a tracer Batman dropped, Gordon finally gets a fix on his location.
In her closing argument, Janet realizes that she was wrong about Batman "creating" the criminals: even without him, the rogues would've most likely turned out the same way. While Batman may have inspired some of their costumes and dramatic poses, they made their own choice to become criminals. In reality, the criminals created Batman. To her own astonishment, the jury finds Batman not guilty. The Joker congratulates Janet on a job well done, but then merrily declares that they're going to execute them both anyway, which was probably planned from the very beginning.
Batman is dragged into one of the treatment rooms and strapped to the electroshock couch. Before the switch is thrown, the Joker, who has swapped his judge's robes for a priest's cassock, begins to unmask Batman. Just then, Janet remembers a batarang Batman left on a criminal hidden in her pocket, and throws it at the ceiling light, shattering it and plunging the room into darkness. The moment's confusion is all Batman needs to break them out, tying up Harley in the process. Killer Croc then guards the door before Batman takes him out and the Joker fires a machine gun, nearly hitting Harley and damaging a generator, which shocks Croc.Batman and Janet escape, but the Scarecrow blocks their way with a scythe. To their other side, the Ventriloquist, Poison Ivy, and the Mad Hatter follow up to them. Batman pulls Janet out of the way of Scarecrow's scythe, which decapitates Scarface and lodges itself in the wall. As Scarecrow struggles with the scythe, Batman throws him into the other three rogues and runs off with Janet. They are then confronted by Arkham inmates led by Two-Face, with the previous rogues coming up behind them. Batman throws an inmate into the crowd and escapes with the D.A. through the roof.
As they make their way to the exit, Gordon and the police storm in and hold the mob at gunpoint. The Joker pursues Batman and Janet outside, tying up him with a rope and swinging a heavy gavel. He is subdued after a brief fight in which Batman kicks him hard in the face.
As the new day dawns, Janet makes her peace with Batman, as they agree that what they both want most is a city that doesn't always need him.
- Killer Croc seems to have a fixation for throwing rocks at Batman: in "Almost Got 'Im", he considers it his finest hour to have thrown a really big one at him (though that was actually Batman disguised as Croc); similarly, in "Sideshow", Croc tries to crush Batman's head with a large rock.
- Mad Hatter refers to his first criminal act in "Mad as a Hatter".
- This is the first episode to make reference of Harley Quinn's former life as a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, which is then later explored in The New Batman Adventures episode "Mad Love".
- Poison Ivy refers to the time she nearly assassinated Two-Face (back when he was still Harvey Dent) in "Pretty Poison".
Home video releases
- Stephanie Zimbalist replaces Lynette Mettey as the voice of Janet Van Dorn. Stephanie is probably best known as the lead of the television series Remington Steele. Stephanie is also the daughter of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., who voices Alfred. She also attended the Julliard School for a year, at the same time Kevin Conroy was there.
- The note that summons Batman to the courthouse is told in the form of a riddle, and features cutout letters to form the words. This was a similar gimmick used by Josiah Wormwood in "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy".
- When Batman delivers the leader of the "Skulls" gang to Gordon, the man's T-shirt features a clear homage to the symbol used by Marvel Comics' The Punisher.
- In delivering his verdict, Joker gives an obvious parody of Warner Bros.' Porky Pig.
- Although he is initially seen on the jury, the Riddler disappears entirely from the episode during the third act, with even his spot on the jury vacant. Even Scarecrow, who also didn’t have any lines, at least stayed until the end.
- The plot of this episode was the original idea for the first DCAU Batman movie, but it was felt that it worked better in the half-hour format. Instead, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was made.
- The Scarecrow has no lines in this episode even though the script featured him speaking a few times. This is because his voice actor Henry Polic II had to undergo throat surgery at the time, and was thus unavailable.
- When Harley Quinn says "Shoot him" as the jury is shown, the Mad Hatter's mouth can be seen moving.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman/Bruce Wayne|
|Bob Hastings||James Gordon|
|Mark Hamill|| The Joker|
|Stephanie Zimbalist||Janet Van Dorn|
|George Dzundza|| Ventriloquist & Scarface|
|Aron Kincaid||Killer Croc|
|Roddy McDowall||The Mad Hatter|
|Diane Pershing||Poison Ivy|
|Liane Schirmer||Renee Montoya|
|Arleen Sorkin||Harley Quinn|
Janet: Not only does Batman create these so called 'super criminals', he takes it upon himself to be their judge and jury with no regards to the legal system.
Janet: You want to support law and order? You take off that mask and put on a uniform.
Two-Face: You said it yourself, lady. Batman made every one of us.
Janet: This is insane. Me defending you? As far as I'm concerned, you belong in here with them.
Ventriloquist: (quietly) Oyez, oyez.
Two-Face: (opening statement) Look at us. We're all freaks and monsters. And who made us this way? Batman!
Janet: I suppose you, like your friends, claim that Batman drove you to be a criminal?
Janet: I object to this witness! She's obviously trying to influence the judge.
Janet: And so it's Batman's fault you lead a life of crime?
Janet: I used to believe Batman was responsible for you people but now I see nearly everyone here would have ended up exactly the same, Batman or not. Oh, the gimmicks might be different, but you'd all be out there in some form or another bringing misery to Gotham. The truth is, you created him.
Mad Hatter: Your Honor, in light of Ms. Van Dorn's stirring defense, we have no choice but to find the defendant... not guilty.
Joker: Well done, counselor. You've proven that Batman didn't create us. That we in fact messed up our own rotten lives. And as we are so rotten, vile and depraved... we're going to waste you anyway! A-bi, a-bi, a-bi, that's all, folks!
Joker: (bad Irish accent) And now the final confession, the secret you've kept hidden for so many years...
Two-Face: Everyone spread out! Don't let him get away!
Two-Face: Nobody panic!
Scarface: Hold on, you'll hit Croc!
Janet: I see now there's a need for the things you do. But I'm still going to work towards a city that doesn't need Batman.