A quintessential Saturday morning cartoon of the early 2000's, there are few animated series that have had as much of an impact as 2001's Justice League. Introducing many to characters like the Green Lantern: John Stewart and the Martian Manhunter, the series was an easy gateway into the superhero genre for many who were only familiar with characters like Batman and Superman.
Many of the series' strongest episodes are comparable to various comics of different eras, and the quality of the series still holds up today. So to celebrate everything Justice League, we're going to count down the best episodes that the show has to offer. Without any further deliberation, here are the Top 10 Episodes of Justice League!
10 Comfort And Joy
What "Comfort and Joy," the series holiday special, lacks in high, end of the world stakes, it has in a fun tangent that shows our heroes getting to enjoy some downtime.
This episode is highlighted by Superman and Martian Manhunter's time together, in which Clark invites J'onn to Smallville on Christmas Eve to spend time with his family and show him what the holidays are all about.
9 Injustice For All
As the superhero genre evolved, additional layers and complexities have been added by numerous creators in order to grow the genre. Despite this, simpler stories of "good vs evil" are often still very effective. This is the case with the episode, "Injustice For All." Prompted by his contraction of a rare disease, Lex Luthor establishes a team of supervillains of equivalent strength and prowess to that of the Justice League.
The ensuing conflict is a classic battle between the Justice League and Luthor's newly minted group of villains. While we won't spoil the details, the details surrounding Luthor's disease make the morality of the episode more complicated than one may have anticipated.
As a team made up of numerous heroes, the opposition that the Justice League face must be a force comparable that of the team's combined effort. A powerful adversary who has become synonymous with the Justice League is the ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid.
So you know you're in for something special when Darkseid faces a threat so troublesome that he must reach out to the Justice League for help. Though we won't spoil it for those unfamiliar with the episode, we'll just say that the League should've seen the twist of the episode's second part coming.
7 Secret Origins
The very first episode of Justice League, the show starts off on quite the high note. Due to being a team-based series, many episodes of the show only include a few select members of the team in order to better focus and hone in on specific aspects of the story being told.
However, Secret Origins has the distinction of including every member of the team, giving each of them importance in the episode, all while establishing the framework of every subsequent episode to come.
6 The Savage Time
The superhero genre is one that allows for the implementation of over the top storylines and plot threads that would come across as ridiculous in pretty much any other genre. However, these types of narratives consistently seem to work as long as there are spandex-clad heroes around.
This couldn't be truer when discussing the season one finale of Justice League, "The Savage Time." The episode is a time-traveling adventure that follows the Justice League as they travel back in time to World War II to stop the immortal Vandal Savage from using advanced technologies to swing World War II into the favor of the Axis.
Between comics like Old Man Logan and The Death of Superman, it's no secret that the superhero genre has no shortage of "worst-case scenario" stories. Justice League's take on one such story can be found in the episode "Hereafter," in which Superman seemingly falls in battle, and the rest of the league must deal with the fallout and repercussions of the apparent tragedy.
What helps to push the episode over the edge and land its spot on the list is the episode's second part, in which we are able to see the normally unstoppable Superman reduced to a powerless status, and working alongside an unlikely ally.
4 Wild Cards
1992's Batman: The Animated Series is often lauded as one of the greatest animated series of all time, and it's not hard to see why. Between its picture-perfect depictions of characters like Bruce Wayne and the Joker, BTAS redefined and innovated the Batman franchise.
The Justice League episode, "Wild Cards" harkens back to the days of Batman: The Animated Series, heavily focusing on Batman, the Joker, and the Royal Flush Gang. While much of what makes Justice League so special is what each of the heroes brings to the table, this episode feels more like a throw-back to BTAS that features additional heroes, making the Batman focused episode feel all the more authentic.
3 A Better World
It's always fun to wonder about "what ifs" in comics. One of the most popular "what if" scenarios is to imagine if the heroes of the world were actually villainous instead. This hypothetical has been depicted in numerous stories such as in the video game Injustice, the film Crisis on Two Earths, and in this entry of our list, the Justice League episode, "A Better World."
This episode of the series shows the League we know come in contact with alternate versions of themselves from another universe. However, without spoiling the episode, let's just say that the alternate version of the league goes too far in their approaches to stopping crimes.
2 Star Crossed
While Justice League is a series that benefits from its episodic format, we recommend that you make sure to watch "Star Cross" last in your viewing order. The finale to the series, the episode provides a great payoff to those who had stuck around for the majority of the series.
The episode provides a great deal of characterization and motive to Hawkgirl, who'd primarily been treated as a side character over the course of the series. While many of the strongest episodes of the series are made up of two parts, "Star Crossed" is a three-part episode. This gives it extra space to flesh out an develop its story, and it really pays off.
Many of the best episodes of Justice League translate elements that make the comics so special into the animation medium with authenticity and an understanding of the source material. This is epitomized in the number one episode on our list, "Legends." A common element found within a great deal of DC Comics is the inclusion of a multiverse that the heroes inhabit. The first of DC's storylines was written by longtime Justice Society of America writer, Gardener Fox.
A love letter to comics of a bygone era, "Legends" incorporates many elements of Fox's multiverse related comics, having the Justice League come into contact with a superhero team of an alternate world.