The DCAU Batman is such a great character because he's consistent. It's not so much that he's a contradiction or a caricature like it seems in the comics sometimes. He's got many layers. I complied a list of my ten favorite episodes that showcase what makes Batman such a great character. Here they are in countdown order (spoilers up to JLU's "Epilogue"):
10) TIE - “Demon's Quest” (Batman The Animated Series) and “Injustice For All” (Justice League) – This is Batman at his biggest and most heroic. He faces Ra's Al Ghul, a man with legions of servants trying to kill innocents on a world-wide scale! In "Injustice", Batman’s bravery and skill come through in the face of a collection of super criminals that includes Lex Luthor and The Joker.
9) “Nothing to Fear” (Batman The Animated Series) – The question of whether or not Thomas Wayne would approve of Bruce's life as Batman is raised. Batman re-affirms his mission.
8) “Babel” (Batman Beyond) - Bruce's story to Terry shows that Batman understands the concept of self sacrifice.
7) “Perchance to Dream” (Batman The Animated Series) – We see Batman's ideal world, but there's a part of him who knows there is no perfect world for him (hence how he can't just stay there and be happy). He is Batman, and no dream world can keep him from that.
6) “Second Chances” (Batman The Animated Series) - Although not seen very often, Batman has compassion. He doesn't see Two-Face as a criminal to be locked away, he sees the good man in Harvey Dent. Batman believes in redemption. And he also truly appreciates Dick being there for him.
5) “Beware The Gray Ghost” (Batman The Animated Series) – Batman meets his hero. The costumes, the technology, the gimmicks, the theatrics; in this episode, we see where Batman gets his inspiration from. Even Batman's not above being a fanboy.
4) “A Better World” (Justice League) – Batman faces off against himself. He finally sees what a crime free Gotham would look like and what kind of Batman it takes. He wonders if it's a just world, and ultimately, Batman's original philosophy wins out.
3) “Epilogue” (Justice League Unlimited) – Amanda Waller's admiration for Batman shows how unique he is among his peers. Plus we get more of him as a compassionate man in the flashback with Ace.
2) “I Am The Night” (Batman The Animated Series) – Batman takes a realistic look at his personal crusade. He's been doing it a long time, and it not only affects him, but those he cares about. Through it all, he continues to do what he must.
1) Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – This one covers just about everything. Bruce Wayne having a reason not to become Batman (Andrea) and then losing it. Bruce's first attempt at scaring criminals. The police thinking Batman has finally crossed the line. Batman's depth and full potential, the key to really understanding the character, can be found right here.
Honorable Mentions - "Over the Edge", "Rebirth", "Shriek", "Return of the Joker", "Starcrossed" (should be tied with "Babel", I guess) and "The Once and Future Thing"
So there's my list. I welcome disagreements! Especially considering no TNBA episodes made it to the top ten. Oh well, tell me what you guys think.