The 10 Best Episodes of ‘Justice League Unlimited’

With its recent arrival on HBO Max, we rank the best episodes of the best superhero entertainment ever made.
Justice League Unlimited Best Episodes

5. “This Little Piggy”

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Paul Dini
  • Original Airdate: August 28, 2004

Comics are goofy. How do you make sense of a universe where Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman exist alongside each other? You don’t. You embrace it.

Circe, the Greek sorceress who once imprisoned Odysseus, takes her vengeance against Wonder Woman’s mother by transforming her daughter into a pig. Batman recruits the magician Zatanna on a mission to free his teammate while the magnificently bizarre B’Wana Beast attempts to care for Diana, the “Wonder Pig.”

“This Little Piggy” is another comedy episode, but the ha-has underscore the tight friendship between League members. In fact, maybe there’s something more than friendship going on between Batman and Wonder Woman? Justice League Unlimited ships the caped crusader and the Amazon hard, and I don’t mind at all. DC’s top brooders fit snuggly next to each other.

4. “Epilogue”

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Dwayne McDuffie
  • Original Airdate: July 23, 2005

This Season 2 finale was meant to be a series finale and the last word on the DC Animated Universe. Audiences had different ideas, and the demand never seemed to fade away. Still, “Epilogue” delivers a satisfying climax for characters who will never get one.

Set during the tail end of Batman Beyond‘s timeline, future Dark Knight Terry McGinnis looks in the mirror one day and sees Bruce Wayne staring back at him. Maybe Wayne was more than a mentor? Maybe Wayne and Terry share DNA?

As Terry starts to piece the puzzle together, we witness his concept of who and what Bruce Wayne was via black-and-white flashbacks. The revelations start to come fast and furious, but just before everything falls together, in steps an ancient Amanda Waller to cast a shadow over everything once again.

Why does a man dress like a bat to punch crooks in the face? In answering the question for Bruce, Terry answers the question for himself. It’s hard to watch “Epilogue” and move on to whatever next Batman iteration. Bruce and Terry got their climax here, and it was just.

3. “The Once and Future Thing Part One: Weird Western Tales”

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by Dwayne McDuffie
  • Original Airdate: January 1, 2005

The multiverse starts here. Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman chase the villain Chronos through his getaway portal. They arrive in the old west, where they meet up with DC’s western warriors — Jonah Hex, Bat Lash, El Diablo, Ohiyesa Smith. The adventure is classic, paying homage to your favorite white hat/black hat brawls. At the same time, in taking its first step into other realms, Justice League Unlimited ignites its first major crossover. From here, the series sucks in both Batman Beyond and Static Shock.

“The Once and Future Thing” is a dynamite two-parter that shuts the book on the first season, promising an even greater universe of characters than you thought possible. The sky’s the limit for this group, and the show’s writers delight in plunging into the darkest and most untested avenues of their IP. They got you with Batman and Wonder Woman, but you’re sticking around for the El Diablo guest-spots.

2. “For the Man Who Has Everything”

  • Directed by Dan Riba
  • Written by J.M. DeMatteis
  • Original Airdate: August 7, 2004

Justice League Unlimited was not in the business of direct adaptation. Rarely did they reach into their longboxes and pull out a classic comic, but the result was golden when they did. “For the Man Who Has Everything” is based on Alan Moore and Dave GibbonsSuperman Annual #11. It’s the brisk but brutal saga of how the war-mongering Mongul imprisons Superman in a blissful dreamscape using the poisonous Black Mercy plant.

As Wonder Woman trades fists with Mongul, Batman attempts to reach the catatonic Kryptonian. Living in a fantasy where all his desires are granted, Superman struggles to turn away and face the grim reality outside his body. Batman, on the other hand, is a master of accepting tragedy as truth. He dunks a bucket of cold water on his friend, and the two emerge to put down the alien baddie giving Wonder Woman so much trouble.

1. “Destroyer”

  • Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos
  • Written by Dwayne McDuffie
  • Original Airdate: May 13, 2006

Darkseid is. Mister Miracle fans know what I’m talking about. But if Darkseid exists, so too must the heralds of light and goodness.

“Destroyer” is everything a series finale should be. It’s epic yet intimate. Showcasing the Justice League’s collective strength, not as muscular badasses, but as individuals who join together when tyranny gains a little momentum. They draw the line. Darkseid ain’t crossing it.

Superman drops an all-time, rip-roaring speech. It’s the monologue to end all monologues. For his entire life, the Kryptonian has held his punches. He could never let loose as one strike would end any opponent. But as he tells Darkseid: with him, he doesn’t have to hold back. Darkseid is tough enough. He can take a full beating from Supes, and Superman is excited to deliver it. He brings Darkseid to the very edge of oblivion, and it’s the most thrilling and scary bit of action a Superman film, comic, or cartoon has ever achieved.

Justice League Unlimited was a monstrous flex. The three seasons built off everything that had come before. In 2008, the comic book movie market was about to explode with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, but Warner Bros. Animation had already reached peak possibility. The only thing holding the episodes back was that they were cartoons, and most chunks of mainstream audiences still refuse to meet animation on the same level as live-action.


Not you, though. You know what’s up. Superheroes don’t get better than what you’ll find in Justice League Unlimited. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman might not be for everybody, but there is a League member for everybody. You just have to find them, and they’re all on display in Justice League Unlimited. Booster Gold, Black Canary, Bouncing Boy, B’Wana Beast—choose your fighter—those are just the B’s!

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Brad Gullickson: Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)