Selina Kyle has known many different roles in her eight decades as a villain turned antihero, from mercenary to hero to crime lord to cat thief. It says something for the longevity of the character that these many occupations blend into a relatively cohesive presence across comics, animation, and film. Catwoman has been around for nearly as long as Batman, and she only gets better with time.
Though Catwoman, like Batman, has had the majority of her stories told in comics, there are still plenty of TV, book, and film adaptations to keep a person busy. Join us as we look over her most essential animated appearances, from Batman: The Animated Series to DC Super Hero Girls and beyond.
Batman: The Animated Series - "Catwalk"
If you're not going to start with Selina's epic two-part first appearance,"The Cat and the Claw," the next best place to go is going to be "Catwalk."
Feeling listless and annoyed at having been forced to give up her life as Catwoman by both Batman and the courts, Selina tries to find satisfaction in attending gala events. When she runs into Bruce Wayne and Veronica Vreeland at a museum event exhibiting extinct wildlife, she becomes pensive and then angry when they attempt to praise the hunter Stanton Vreeland, who she blames for forcing the animals into extinction to begin with. This antsy, annoyed feeling follows her in a confrontation with the Ventriloquist, who she agrees to work with in order to take vengeance on the Vreeland family for their history of animal cruelty. This puts her at odds with Batman once more, who ultimately becomes disappointed by her inability to give up her Catwoman persona.
This episode is a great character study of Selina that truly sympathizes with her feelings of being caged.
Batman: The Animated Series - "Batgirl Returns"
Barbara Gordon and Selina Kyle are about as close as you can get to total opposites. Barbara is the daughter of one of the most highly celebrated officers in Gotham who is dedicated to doing the right thing, while Selina is a former sex worker who overcame great adversity to become the world’s foremost cat thief. Yet, in tandem, these two always show us a lot about each other.
Barbara's defenses are quickly disarmed by the smooth-talking Selina, and the two strike up an immediate friendship with one another. Of course, the twist is that there is no twist, and Selina had her eye on a bigger prize all along, but this episode is a lot of fun regardless. Barbara, struggling to prove herself in the eyes of Batman, Dick Grayson, her professors, and her father might go unnoticed by them, but Selina sees it immediately and talks to her about partnership and equality. Despite her own moral failings, she makes it clear that she does genuinely respect Barbara, which is more than Batman usually does.
The New Batman Adventures - "Cult of the Cat"
Batman and a redesigned Catwoman team up to take on a cat-themed cult. In typical Selina fashion, she steals something from the wrong people and ends up with the entire cult on her tail. Batman is annoyed with her but agrees to help her lose them — if she promises to return everything she has ever stolen. She grudgingly agrees but tries to shoo Batman off later when she decides she'd rather steal more irreplaceable items from the cult the second she gets a chance.
This is a great highlight of how Batman and Catwoman interacted with one another in an adversarial but still magnetic way for many years, and Selina casually flirting her way into a cult that is actively trying to murder her is a delight.
The Batman - "Ragdoll to Riches"
2004's The Batman is a fairly underrated show overall, and its take on Catwoman, voiced by the great Gina Gershon, is one of the highlights of an already enjoyable series. Though all her appearances on The Batman are well worth your time, this bizarre, high-stakes caper is the best.
The unbelievably creepy villain Ragdoll comes head-to-head with Selina when they decide to steal the same exact jewels, and this kicks off a romp through a museum that ends in a three-way brawl between Ragdoll, Batman, and Catwoman inside a gigantic clock. Ragdoll's bizarre powerset allows for him to slide in between the gears that threaten to crush Bruce and Selina, which makes this one of the most visually entertaining episodes of the whole series.
DC Super Hero Girls - "#AFightAtTheMuseum"
DC Super Hero Girls is a great cartoon that just doesn't get the props it deserves for being an all-ages romp on par with Teen Titans Go! There are many highlights of this series, but the choice of voiceover veteran Cree Summer playing at her best Eartha Kitt impression through a modern lens was one of its most brilliant casting choices.
In this episode, the other Super Hero Girls are becoming irritated with Supergirl for constantly stealing their thunder and calling them nerds, so they part ways with her for a while. Supergirl hears breaking glass at the museum and investigates, only to square off against a character who has no powers other than her epic manipulation tactics combined with her brilliant planning skills: Catwoman.
Making Selina an equally powerful character as Kara due to their respective strengths and weaknesses made for one of the most entertaining Catwoman appearances ever, but it also gave a lot of context for why she's such a fascinating character.