Spider-Man: The Animated Series not only remains one of the most excellent animation series from the ’90s, but it is also one of the most memorable programs from the Fox Kids program block. The Marvel Films Animation produced, and TMS Entertainment Co., Ltd animated cartoon series ran for five seasons and attracted a new generation of fans to Marvel’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. For 65 episodes, fans were transported to New York City where they followed Spider-Man and Peter Parker (voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes)’s heroic adventures, while he tried to balance his personal life, the responsibilities of an Empire State University graduate student, and a freelance photographer for J3 Communications.
What made Spider-Man: The Animated Series an incredible superhero series was that it made audiences care for its hero, supporting cast members and villains. No matter if they appeared only once or played pivotal supporting roles on the series, the show’s writing team correctly developed Peter Parker’s universe. While the series has been off the air for nearly twenty years, Spider-Man: The Animated Series tugged at viewers’ heartstrings with moments that made viewers laugh out loud or somberly weep. CBR pays homage to this superb series by looking back at the show’s most heartbreaking moments.
15. WHEN PETER MET TANIA
Season three marked a significant turning point in Spider-Man’s life. In “Make a Wish,” an interdimensional being named Madame Web entered the wall-crawler’s life and forewarned him that she is training him for an ultimate battle and he needs the “faith of a child” to survive this experience. This leads him to Spider-Man’s biggest fan: Maria Tania Elizando.
Tania proved to be a bigger hero through a two-part adventure that briefly had an amnesiac Spider-Man work with Doctor Octopus. Thanks to the assistance of spunky cab driver, Mousie, Tania was able to help Spider-Man remember who is he and defeat Doc Ock. During the finale of “Attack of the Octobot,” Tania became the third person to know that Spider-Man and Peter Parker were the same. While it marked Tania’s final appearance in the series, that tender moment between Peter and Tania melted fans’ hearts.
14. MYSTERIO’S DEATH
Mysterio was one of Spider-Man’s greatest annoyances throughout the animated series’ first four seasons. Between framing Spider-Man for crimes that he did not commit to joining Kingpin’s Insidious Six, the illusionist complicated Spider-Man’s life to no end. However, Spider-Man’s relationship with Mysterio greatly changed when he allied him to save Mary Jane from his adversary’s true love: Miranda Wilson.
Mysterio saved Miranda after a major studio accident that left her disfigured and gave her numerous reasons to live. However, Miranda grew tired of waiting on the illusionist and targeted Mary Jane to transplant her mind into Mary Jane’s mind. After Spider-Man and Mysterio stopped the process, Mysterio stated that he truly loved Miranda and would support her anyway. Miranda decided to spare Spider-Man and Mary Jane’s lives as she chose to self-destruct the lair.
13. VENOM: THE HERO
Venom (Eddie Brock) naturally reared his scary face in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. While Venom made his first appearance at the conclusion of “The Alien Costume, Part II,” he was the first villain to successfully unmask Spider-Man as Peter Parker and threaten to out him to the public. After Spider-Man was successfully able to separate the Venom symbiote from Eddie Brock, he was sent to Ravencroft under Dr. Ashley Kafka’s care.
Over time, Eddie fell in love with his therapist. In season three’s “Venom Returns,” Eddie reunited with the symbiote and began to assist Baron Mordo in bringing the dreaded Dormammu to their dimension. However, when the psychotic Carnage threatened Dr. Kafka’s life, Venom to put his feud with Spider-Man aside and decided to sacrifice his life to make sure that both Carnage and Dormammu did not win.
12. KINGPIN’S ORIGIN STORY
The Kingpin was the prominent villain who appeared in all five seasons of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Voiced by the late Roscoe Lee Brown, the Kingpin was a big thorn in Spider-Man’s side. However, Wilson Fisk would not be the villainous crime lord if he had a supportive father. As a child, Fisk tried everything to please his criminal father including taking the fall for him.
The elder Fisk let his son rot in prison. Furious that his father abandoned him, Wilson Fisk worked his way to the top of the criminal underworld. Wilson Fisk became the Kingpin, and next searched for his father. Instead of embracing his father, the Kingpin ordered his father to be eliminated. To know that his father gave him up and Wilson Fisk became the monster that he was just heartbreaking.
11. THE BEYONDER’S SACRIFICE
Spider-Man’s mentor, Madame Web, worked for an omnipotent being called the Beyonder. He foresaw the damage that Spider-Carnage would cause to reality if no one stopped him. The duo then decided to travel throughout different realities to meet Spider-Men, and after testing various Spider-Men, our version of Spider-Man became the real champion. The Beyonder and Madame Web then tested Spidey with the “Secret Wars.”
Spider-Man was able to pass the life-altering test, and The Beyonder sent him to stop Spider-Carnage. However, Doctor Doom drained The Beyonder of most of his powers in “Secret Wars, ” and he was nearly powerless during series-ending story arc: “Spider Wars.” When one of the Spider-Men mutated into the Man-Spider, the Beyonder used up all of his remaining powers to save both the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man from being killed.
10. GREEN GOBLIN THREATENS AUNT MAY
Peter Parker’s worst fears came true when the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) learned his true identity in the season three finale, “Turning Point.” After blowing up the Osborn Mansion and facing off on top of the George Washington Bridge, Green Goblin used a weapon called the time dilation accelerator to transport himself to the Parker household in Forest Hills.
Spider-Man made it back seconds before the Green Goblin appeared from a portal. The Goblin decided not to disturb her sleep but warned Peter that he was not out of the woods yet. As Osborn vanished, Aunt May woke up and Peter reassured his aunt that everything was okay. This moment was saddening to many fans because they saw their favorite superhero at his most vulnerable point yet. But nothing could compare to the tragedy the Goblin caused at the end of the episode.
9. SPIDER-CARNAGE’S REDEMPTION
During “Spider-Wars, Part II: Farewell, Spider-Man,” our hero traveled to an alternate reality to stop Spider-Carnage from destroying all of reality. To stop the psychotic nightmare and save that reality’s Gwen Stacy, Peter contacted the one and only person who could reason with Spider-Carnage: Uncle Ben, who was alive in this alternate universe.
Fans started crying when Peter’s long dead uncle appeared from the shadows. Ben Parker reminded his wayward nephew one of his greatest teachings: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben’s presence helped the cloned Peter Parker fight the Carnage symbiote, but the evil symbiote was not unable to let go. Before he vanished from existence, Peter apologized for the wickedness he caused as Spider-Carnage and opened the interdimensional device and saved all reality.
8. SPENCER SMYTHE’S “DEATH”
The first heartbreaking moment of the series occurred in the series’ second episode: “The Spider-Slayer (Part One).” Norman Osborn hired Spencer and his son, Alistair Smythe, to create a weapon to capture Spider-Man. The Smythes built the Black Widow robot and it caused a ruckus at his first appearance at the Hardy Foundation’s charity ball. Not only did the Black Widow robot destroy the Hardy Foundation’s party, but it also captured Flash Thompson, who was in a Spider-Man costume.
Peter was able to save Flash and defeat the robot, but Spencer Smythe seemed to be destroyed at the end of the episode. As Alistair swore revenge against Spider-Man, the Kingpin decided to take Alistair under his wing. Off-screen, the Kingpin found Mr. Smythe’s body and hid him from his new employee.
7. BLACK CAT LEAVES
Felicia Hardy’s role expanded during season four as she became the Black Cat. For the first few episodes, Spider-Man did not think that he needed a partner, but after Black Cat assisted Spider-Man with Kraven, Calypso, Alistair Smythe and the Scorpion, Spidey warmed up to her. However, things changed as Felicia’s old flame, Morbius, returned to the series.
Felicia’s love for the Living Vampire was still there, and she vowed to help him control his urges for plasma. After Black Cat, Morbius and Spider-Man assisted Blade the Vampire Hunter in taking down the Vampire Queen, Black Cat decided it was time for her to help Blade and Morbius eradicate vampires around the world. Her departure saddened Spider-Man, and he returned to defending New York City alone.
6. MARY JANE’S FALL
The climax of the season three finale, “Turning Point,” took place when Spider-Man faced off against the Green Goblin for one final time. After he failed to kidnap Aunt May, Norman Osborn went after Peter’s greatest love: Mary Jane Watson. Using the time dilation accelerator, the psychotic businessman kidnapped Mary Jane Watson and transported her to the George Washington Bridge, where the archrivals have an intense showdown.
The two men did not notice that the time dilation accelerator remained active and created a portal. Free from the Goblin’s control, Mary Jane ran for cover but fell into the portal which transported her into Limbo. A frantic Spider-Man dove into the river to find his true love, but Ms. Watson was nowhere to be found. Mary Jane’s disappearance changed the tone of the series, and Peter Parker was never the same.
5. HARRY OSBORN GOES MAD
Mental health and animated series never mix well. However, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, decide to tackle this issue as they brought Harry Osborn’s descent into madness into the Marvel cartoon series. During season four’s “The Return of the Green Goblin,” Harry lost all sense of reality when his father contacted him through Limbo.
Through Limbo, Norman manipulated his son into taking the Goblin formula and attracting the attention of both Spider-Man and guest star, The Punisher. Peter was horrified to find his friend not only under the Goblin mask, but also talking to the Green Goblin. When Peter revealed that his father was the Green Goblin, a horrified Harry asked the Goblin’s ghost, if it was true and Norman pulled off his mask. At that moment, Harry lost it and became the psychotic son that Norman always wanted.
4. GOODBYE UNCLE BEN
After Spider-Carnage was vaporized right in front of their eyes, Spider-Man lamented the fact that he failed to save his psychotic clone. Uncle Ben reassured Peter that the clone did precisely what he needed to do to protect all reality. Uncle Ben also told his nephew: “I am proud of you, Peter. I will miss you.”
After the two Parkers hugged, Peter departed back to his reality, but before he was transported back to Madame Web’s headquarters, Spider-Man told Uncle Ben as a tear rolled down his cheek: “I will miss you too, Uncle Ben. But I will always have you in my heart.” While it was sad that the series finale was the only time that Peter met his uncle face-to-face, it helped bring fans of the cartoon series closure.
3. THE HARDY FAMILY REUNION
During the beginning of Spider-Man: The Animated Series’ fourth season, fans learned more about Felicia Hardy and her family. It was revealed in both “The Cat” and “The Black Cat,” that Felicia’s father was an infamous thief called the Cat, who memorized the Super Soldier serum that created Captain America as a child. Both Doctor Octopus and the Kingpin blackmailed the Hardy family and even used the formula on Felicia transforming her into the Black Cat.
With Spider-Man’s help, the father and daughter were able to fend off both Kingpin and Doctor Octopus. However, the Cat had to turn himself into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. Before he returned to prison, he shared a tender moment with Felicia and her mother, Anastacia. While the Hardy women were against his decision to turn himself in, the Cat reassured them that it was for the best.
2. ROBBIE TURNS ON SPIDER-MAN
Throughout Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Robbie Robertson defended both Peter Parker and his alter-ego Spider-Man to the tyrannical J. Jonah Jameson. While the J3 Communications founder went after the wall-crawler every chance he could get, Robbie tried to sooth his hard-nosed employer. In fact, Spider-Man saved Robbie from the Fisks during season four’s episode entitled, “Guilty.”
However, Robbie changed his tune when Spider-Carnage appeared and partnered with both the Hobgoblin and the Green Goblin during “Spider-Wars, Part I: I Really, Really Hate Clones.” Together, the trio ravaged New York City and all of its boroughs. Robbie punched Spider-Man and blamed him for all the chaos that both his evil clone and the Goblins caused. Viewers’ hearts were crushed when they heard Robbie denounce our favorite wall-crawler.
1. MARY JANE’S CLONE EVAPORATES
The clone of Mary Jane Watson’s evaporation in “The Return of Hydro-Man: Part Two” remains not only the most heartbreaking moment in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, but is also the most horrifying moments as well. Peter thought he reached his happy ending by season five, but the “good old Parker luck” shocked him once again as the Mary Jane Watson he married was…A CLONE!
Scientist Miles Warren cloned Mary Jane at the request of MJ’s creepy ex-flame: Hydro-Man. However, the clone’s molecular structure was unstable, and both Hydro-Man and Mary Jane Watson’s clones perished! “Mary Jane’s” final monologue of the series still haunts fans to this day. “If maybe any part of me is anything like the real Mary Jane Watson,” the clone said. “she loves Peter Parker more than anything in the world.”
What moments from “Spider-Man: The Animated Series” broke your heart? Let us know in the comments!
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