The DC Animated Universe (DCAU) is the internal continuity of several animated programs produced by Warner Bros. Television that utilizes the licensed properties of characters and settings from DC Comics. Not all programs licensed through DC Comics however are part of the DCAU. In total, there are eight different series (including spin-offs) that comprise the DCAU, as well two web series and several direct-to-video feature film.
The DCAU began in 1992 with the release of Batman: The Animated Series. The series produced by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini and was inspired by the tone of the 1989 live-action feature film Batman, directed by Tim Burton, as well as it's 1992 sequel, Batman Returns. The animation style of the series was largely inspired by the old Max Fleischer Superman animated shorts of the 1940s. Batman: The Animated Series proved to be extremely popular and ran on FOX Kids for four seasons, spanning a total of 85 episodes. In 1997, the franchise was moved to the Kids' WB and Batman: The Animated Series was repackaged as The New Batman Adventures (also known as Batman: Gotham Knights).
Naturally, with Batmania sweeping the WB, it was only a matter of time before DC's flagship character, Superman, received his own cartoon series. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini put together the Superman animated series in 1996 and presented it as taking place in the same continuity as Batman: The Animated Series. Season two of Superman included a three-part episode called "World's Finest", which teamed Superman up with Batman. Officially, this storyline is the first canonical representation of a shared continuity and is considered the first appearance of the DC Animated Universe.
In 1999, the Bat-franchise received another spin-off series, Batman Beyond. This program took place several decades in the future and featured an aging Bruce Wayne mentoring his successor, Terry McGinis. This series proved popular as well and ran for three seasons and a total of 52 episodes as well as two spin-off movies.
Episode 2x20 of season two of Batman Beyond was an episode called "Zeta". The episode introduced a humanoid robot character called Infiltration Unit Zeta, which was afforded it's own spin-off series The Zeta Project. This program aired for two seasons on the WB and totalled 26 episodes.
In 2000, the Kids' WB ran another series based on a DC Comics property, Static Shock. The series was created by original comic writer Dwayne McDuffie and was based on a character featured in the Static comic series published under DC's "Milestone" imprint. Initially, the series existed in it's own separate reality (as did it's comic counterpart), but it was eventually revealed to be parter of the greater DCAU. Static Shock ran for four seasons and totalled 52 episodes.
The DC Animated Universe truly came into it's own in 2001 with the release of Justice League - a program showcasing the most iconic superheroes of the DC Universe. In addition to Batman and Superman, the world was re-introduced to the Flash and also featured brand new heavy hitters in the forms of Wonder Woman, the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern (John Stewart) and Hawkgirl. Justice League aired at night time and ran for two seasons under it's original branding on Cartoon Network. After season two, the show expanded it's lineup to include a rotating cast of superhero guest stars and the series was packaged as Justice League Unlimited. Notable recurring guest stars included Booster Gold, Zatanna, the Atom, Red Tornado, Vixen, Black Canary, Green Arrow, the Huntress, Star-Spangled Kid and many more. The series ran for three more seasons culminating in 2006 with a two-part epic pairing the heroes of the DC Universe against the uber-villain Darkseid.
- Batman: The Animated Series
- Batman Beyond
- Justice League
- Justice League Unlimited
- New Batman Adventures
- Static Shock
- Superman: The Animated Series
- Zeta Project, The