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I've been re-watching "Batman: The Animated Series" (still as awesome as ever!) and I'm confused on what time period it's set in. The cars, buildings, and clothing imply that it's mid-twentieth century but Batman has advanced technology in the bat cave which makes me think that it's more modern. Is there an official answer?

  • One thing that (IMO) has never managed to get through in all the Batman cartoons I've seen - that I've only learned from being on this site - is that Batman is a genius. So (I guess?) he regularly invents new technologies for his own use... – Izkata Oct 10 '12 at 3:02
  • @Izkata - I realize this is a old comment, but (while Bruce Wayne is undoubted brilliant) various stories (in cartoons, movies, and the comics) indicate that his access to advanced tech comes at least as much from his being a billionaire as from his own genius. – RDFozz Nov 15 '17 at 19:21
  • When a show has a character use a rotary phone with a dial-up modem to access a virtual reality system, it's pretty clear that it's not supposed to be a consistent time period. – Acccumulation Jun 10 at 16:06
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Batman the Animated Series (September 5, 1992) was inspired by a variety of previous animated series including the famed Max Fleischer's, Superman produced by Fleischer Studios in the 1940s and based on the artwork of producer and artist Bruce Timm. Timm was also inspired by the various Batman series, both animated and live action. You can see his homages in his depictions of the Batmobile, the Batcave and the technology used by Batman.

Batmobile Launching

A homage to the live-action Batmobile launching sequence, complete with the flame jet and fins.

  • Considering its influences, it was designed to have a relatively timeless appearance with the automobiles having a rounded 1940-1950s look but having more modern looking trains. There are dirigibles and helicopters, so it mixes and matches technology from a range of modern eras ranging from the 40s to the 90s.

  • The look even coined its own name, "Dark Deco" which was a mix of retro-modern appearance and intentionally obfuscates what era it is meant to depict. This look was perpetuated in the later Superman the Animated Series and the Justice League Animated Series spin-offs. The look is designed to represent a relatively modern time period without giving too many hints of the era of its origin literally creating a cartoon outside of time.

Take a look at the Max Fleischer Superman and you will be amazed at how forward-thinking those images appear today.

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    And is very effective, even as the show passes its second decade it looks as if it could have been done today (style wise, the animation quality is a different matter) and I suspect it will always feel contemporary because it will always feel both futuristic and historic. – DampeS8N Oct 11 '12 at 3:00
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    Agreed. It just had a 20 year anniversary, but when I watch it, I love it just like it was made yesterday. – Thaddeus Howze Oct 11 '12 at 3:08
  • Broken video link at the end there. :( – RedCaio Dec 4 '17 at 8:16
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Season 1 Episode 18: Beware The Gray Ghost. Time: 21:37,

A backdrop, enlarged "People Weekly" magazine cover is hung behind the Gray Ghost as he signs for Bruce and reads "October 19, 1992"

enter image description here

  • Interesting, can you elaborate please? – Möoz Jan 3 '18 at 21:03
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    I added a screen capture of the episode / object in question. I believe Billy means to imply that the date on the magazine can be construed as a relative indicator of the time period of the episode / show. But, that's my opinion as to what I think he's meaning. I'll leave it to him to update the answer if that is the case (or otherwise) – NKCampbell Jan 3 '18 at 21:10
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The 1990s, because the Batman animated series is in the same storyline as Batman Beyond, which is in 2039. If it were in the 1950s, then in Batman Beyond he would be like 140, and that is unlikely.

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1944-1948...In an episode of the 3rd season, a reference is made to the class of 1907. 40 years ago...

worlds greatest detective!!!

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    Do you know which episode in particular? – Moogle Sep 14 '14 at 21:45
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    According to this page, it was in the episode "Paging the Crime Doctor". It is episode 25 of Volume 2 of the DVDs. – krillgar Feb 10 '15 at 1:54
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Actually they state on the DVD's that the series is heavily influenced by artwork from the 1930's up until the 1950's, and there are a massive amount of references to that time period (References to television shows, certain terminology, the fact that they still have typewriters). Overall I like to think it's set in the fifties, and the dialogue is intentionally written to reflect the common lingua franca of the era. Though it should be noted that when the series was re-vamped to match up with Superman, it changed drastically to be more modern (Which killed it for me). Things like black and white televisions (Which only appeared after the first few episodes by the way) became colour, and the people started wearing insanely tiny skirts and tee-shirts instead of ties and nice suits.

Best episodes ever: "The Jokers Favor" and "Harleys Holiday"

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I need to agree with most of you all, and I feel too that it takes place during the 1940's-50's. However, I need to point out that in the volume 1 episode "Heart of Ice", Alfred asks Bruce if he's playing video games! So back then, video games never existed, if it were set in the 1940's-50's. Its interesting to analyze, and I think possibly the comic books (haven't read them), the time-line those were made back then, set the style for the Batman universe overall. I'm sure too that the original Batman timeline was set in the 1940's-50's but I may be wrong, and because the series was made in the 90's, it can't help but somehow have little present day (1990's) references.

  • That last bit does not seem so necessary for the answer. – Adamant Oct 20 '16 at 17:55
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From what I read, it takes place in the '90s and has modern technology. But the imagery is very 1940s/1950s era. And it was deliberate from the creators because they wanted the "Dark Deco", Film Noir look to this series (it was based off of older Batman versions). I agree with another commenter that this portrayal was lost when the series moved to TNBA, where everything looked more streamlined and modern; it was less stylized than BTAS.

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    Do you have a source for this? Or just your opinion? – amflare Nov 20 '17 at 4:14
  • "From what I read" Where did you read this? – F1Krazy Nov 20 '17 at 10:08
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Actually, there were video games back in the '50s & '60s although they are nothing like the video games of today. So it could still be around that time period.

  • Any evidence thereof, though? – Adamant Mar 15 '17 at 1:18
  • Was this meant to be a comment on Jason's answer? – Rand al'Thor Mar 15 '17 at 1:20
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The beginning of the series is in the late 40's - early 50's. By the time TNBA and Superman came out it was the Late 50's - 60's. That explains why the characters have shorter skirts and wear t-shirts and jeans. In our reality, the 1960's became more casual with younger people. Thats why Dick Grayson looks like a greaser and Tim Drake is wearing chuck taylors and t-shirts. By the time Justice League happens, it becomes more modern still by going into the 80's/90's but looking like the early 2000's. Which can explain why Batman Beyond is uber futuristic with flying cars and wacky clothes. Its basically blade runner but in Batman.

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    Do you have any sources for these years? Or is this just from the setting of the show. – Edlothiad Dec 3 '17 at 18:54
  • You might benefit from a look at our how to answer guide. – Politank-Z Dec 3 '17 at 18:56

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