Warner Bros. Animation took cartoons away from the Saturday morning kiddie line-up and made it accessible to people of all ages when it introduced Batman: The Animated Series to the world. Superman, Batman Beyond, and The Justice League all earned high praise from fans as well. While the writers and producers spent a great deal of time finding just the right voice for Batman (Kevin Conroy), Superman (Tim Daly), The Joker (Mark Hammill), and Lois Lane (Dana Delany), it’s the casting of the guest stars who proved the creators wanted to craft the best animated television shows possible.

The list of famous voices is long when it comes to the televised DC animated universe, but we’ve narrowed it down to 10 that make our ears perk up and make us ask, “Is that who I think it is?”

10: Jodi Benson as Aquagirl (Batman Beyond)

Where you’ve seen her: Ariel (The Little Mermaid)

Why it works: Benson earns a spot on this list, not because of her star power, but simply because she was the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid. Was it accidental casting, the producers tweaking our noses, or just one of those weird stellar alignments we always hear so much about? For those in the know, this is one of those moments that make you smile.

Other notable voice roles: Barbie (Toy Story 3), Patsy Smiles (Camp Lazlo)

09: Thomas F. Wilson as Anthony Zucco (Batman: The Animated Series)

Where you’ve seen him: Biff Tannen (Back to the Future)

Why it works: As the bully who was willing to kill Marty McFly, Wilson is an appropriate choice for the mob boss who ends up killing Dick Grayson’s parents, which lead to Robin’s creation.

Other notable voice roles: Cat-Man (Batman: The Brave and the Bold), Stan Carter (The Spectacular Spider-Man)

08: Michael Dorn as Kalibak (Superman: The Animated Series)

Where you’ve seen him: Worf (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Why it works: Kalibak is the son out of place, constantly seeking his father’s approval, and willing to unleash violence to accomplish his goals. As a massively sized character, one would expect him to have an equally deep voice. Dorn has more than enough baritone to bring the character to life in all of Kalibak’s attempts to kill Superman.

Other notable voice roles: Colonel Lomak (The Zeta Project), The Fright Knight (Danny Phanton), Centurion Robot (Duck Dodgers)

07: Michael Ironside as Darkseid (Superman: The Animated Series)

Where you’ve seen him: Richter (Total Recall), Darryl Revok (Scanners), Col. Dugan (The Next Karate Kid), General Ashdown (Terminator Salvation)

Why it works: When one thinks of bad-ass 80s military men, Michael Ironside got more face time on television and the movies than other “I know that guy” actors of the time. When one thinks of bad-ass cosmic military men in the DC Universe, Darkseid reigns supreme. Put the two together and you’ve got a bad-ass animated character who can go toe to toe with Superman.

Other notable voice roles: Jack Granger (Command & Conquer 3), Sam Fisher (Splinter Cell), 80s Batman aka Dark Knight Returns Batman (The New Batman Adventures)

06: Gilbert Gottfried as Mr. Mxyzptlk (Superman: The Animated Series)

Where you’ve seen him: Dr. Peabody (Problem Child), USA Up All Night, Howard Stern, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Why it works: Gottfried’s comedic voice is instantly recognizable, and instantly irritating to many, which makes his portrayal of Mr. Mxyzptlk a wonderful laugh riot ever single moment he’s on the screen.

Other notable voice roles: Iago (Aladdin), George Zucco (Crank Yankers)

05: Ron Perlman as Clayface (Batman: The Animated Series)

Where you’ve seen him: Hellboy (Hellboy), Clarence Morrow (Sons of Anarchy), Vincent (Beauty and the Beast)

Why it works: Clayface is a behemoth of a villain, and Perlman’s deep voice and ability to bring an angry baritone from within moves Clayface from an annoyance easily dismissed with a water canon, to a creature of evil to be reckoned with.

Other notable voice roles: Slade (Teen Titans), Gha Nachkt (Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Rise of the Bounty Hunters), Lord Hood (Halo 3), Orion (Justice League Unlimited)

04 CCH Pounder as Amanda Waller (Justice League Unlimited)

Where you’ve seen her: Mrs. Frederic (Warehouse 13), Detective Wyms (The Shield)

Why it works: From the moment Amanda Waller appears on the screen, Pounder’s presence and voice command your attention, which is exactly what you want when you have a tough as nails leader of the secret Project Cadmus. Of all the actors on this list, Pounder’s is the one I most look forward to seeing again and again.

Other notable voice roles: Moat (Avatar), Mayor (Static Shock)

03 Ed Asner as Granny Goodness (Superman: The Animated Series)

Where you’ve seen him: Lou Grant (The Mary Tyler Moore Show)

Why it works: There’s something very masculine about Kirby’s Granny Goodness, so when it came time to bring the character to life, Superman: The Animated Series producers made the wise choice to get the gruff and gravely Ed Asner to turn on his falsetto to bring the villainess to life.

Other notable voice roles: J. Jonah Jamison (Spider-Man), Master Vorook Lamar (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic), Carl Fredricksen (Up)

02 Jeffrey Combs as The Question (Justice League Unlimited)

Where you’ve seen him: Herbert West (Re-Animator), Commander Shran (Star Trek: Enterprise)

Why it works: Every role I’ve seen Combs in, his voice has a hint of paranoia and anger in it, which is perfect for the JLU’s Question. His near monotone delivery makes everything he says clear and to the point, and that delivery combined with no face makes Combs’ portrayal of The Question unnerving.

Other notable voice roles: Dr. Jonathan Crane (The New Batman Adventures)

01 Adam West as Simon Trent a.k.a. The Gray Ghost (Batman: The Animated Series)

Where you’ve seen him: Batman

Why it works: Adam West was a brilliant casting choice for Simon Trent. As the Gray Ghost, Trent became typecast as the pulply hero and had a tough time finding jobs later in life. Trent’s story tends to parallel West’s post Batman career so much so, that those that recognize him as Simon Trent, might think the episode was written specifically for him. At the end of Beware the Gray Ghost, Trent becomes a celebrity once again, much the same way West’s star re-ignited in the mid-90s.

Other notable voice roles: Thomas Wayne (Batman: The Brave and the Bold), Mayor Adam West (Family Guy)

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the hundreds of actors whose voices have appeared in the decades long DC Universe animated experience. The next time you are watching an animated show, listen carefully to the voice, and check the credits because you may find yourself asking, “Is that who I think it is?”

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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16 Comments

  1. Aubreii
    August 4, 2010 at 6:36 pm — Reply

    I never saw much of the Superman series but the BAS was excellent and this is testament to the quality. I’d like to see Marvel do a BAS take on something like X-men without pandring to the anime/toy/kids market quite so much as I believe they do.

  2. Doctor Sleepless
    August 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm — Reply

    You nailed the 1st place. But there was a ton of these I didn’t know about..Biff was Catman?

  3. joecab
    August 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm — Reply

    I would have also added Arte Johnson from Laugh-In as Vermin Vunderbarr, the short Prussian fella from Apokolips in a military outfit wearing a monocle. He even got to say “Verrry Interesting” in that episode. (!)

    But Ed as Granny Goodness is the winner for me; he did a great job.

  4. Brian G.
    August 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm — Reply

    Now if there is one thing I know, it’s the DCAU. That is a very impressive list and I commend you sir for it’s creation. Other notable voices include:

    Robbie Benson (aka Beast, from Beauty and the) – the third cop that went into the warehouse with Montoya and Bulock.

    Richard Moll (aka Bull Shanon from Night Court) – Twoface

    David Warner (aka the scientist from TMNT2) – Ra’s al Ghul

    Ed Asner also did the voice of Roland Daggat in B:TAS

    Harry Hamlin (aka Percius from Clash of the Titans) – Tony Romulus (the werewolf)

    Dana Delany was not only Lois Lane but Andrea Boumont as well. (She was Andrea first)

    Brad Garret (Everyone Loves Raymond) – Bibbo, Lobo

    Lisa Edlstein (House’s boss in House) – Mercy Graves

    Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) – Metallo

    Miguel Ferrer (Shan Yu from Mulan/Bob from Robocop) – Aquaman

    Lori Petty (Kit from A League of Their Own) – Livewire

    Michael Rosenbaum (Lex in Smallville) – Flash, Ghoul, Agent West, Dr. Polaris, Deadshot

    Peri Gilpin (Ross from Frasier) – Volcana

    Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight) – Mongul

    Juliet Landau (Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) – Tala

    Gina Torres (Angel and Firefly) – Vixen

    Oded Fehr (The Mummy franchise) – Dr. Fate

    Hector Elizondo (Various movies) – Bane (later in the series), Krigger (the hawkman soldier that MM breaks his mind)

    Robert Englund (Freddy Kruger) – Felix Faust

    Patrick Duffey (Step by Step) – Steve Trevor

    Daniel Dae Kim (Jin from Lost) – Metron

    • August 5, 2010 at 8:31 am — Reply

      You are correct, but as you may have noticed, this was a top ten list, and I did mention there were a lot of other great names out there…

      • Brian G.
        August 5, 2010 at 9:55 am — Reply

        I never said anything to the contrary…

  5. applejack1310
    August 4, 2010 at 9:03 pm — Reply

    cch pounder is easily my number one. she was so perfect in that role. jlu had a ton of great cameos, though. hell, rob zombie was in an episode. john c mcginley, robert englund, pam grier…

    • Brian G.
      August 5, 2010 at 6:46 am — Reply

      yeah … Rob Zombie was Icthultu in the episodes where Solomon Grundy dies.

  6. August 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm — Reply

    For the ‘Scaper in me, nothing made my happier than John Crichton err … Ben Browder guesting in the JLU ep, The Once and Future Thing.

  7. Kevin
    August 4, 2010 at 10:18 pm — Reply

    CCH Pounder is also well known for her role as Cheryl Andrews on MillenniuM, and Jeffrey Combs is also loved for his dual roles of Brunt and Weyoun on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as his recurring gig on The 4400 as Dr. Kevin Burkhoff, the paramour of Summer Glau’s Tess character.

    Ben Browder’s guest spot was great, double.

  8. Paul S.
    August 5, 2010 at 1:12 am — Reply

    How about Fred Savage and Jason Hervey both from “The Wonder Years” as Hawk and Dove respectively in JLU?

  9. TaZ
    August 5, 2010 at 9:13 am — Reply

    All reasons that I watch NickToons late at night just to see old DCU animated show re-runs. And I’ll watch any re-run of episodes where Mayor Adam West shows up on Family Guy. “Stratego? Would anyone like to play Stratego?”

  10. Scott
    August 5, 2010 at 6:16 pm — Reply

    I have some quibbles about the characterization of Jeffrey Combs’ delivery as a near monotone as I found his voice fairly richly modulated.

    Green Arrow: Hold your horses! No one asked for more help. This whole trip might just prove the kid shouldn’t eat nachos before bed.
    The Question: Peanut butter sandwiches.
    Supergirl: How did y– what, do you go through my trash?!
    The Question: Please… I go through everyone’s trash.

    The casual contempt Combs puts into that “please” just gets me every time.

  11. R.J.O.
    August 7, 2010 at 2:02 am — Reply

    Nice article, but I find it hard to believe that no one has mentioned Warner’s voice casting director Andrea Romano yet — the talented lady who matched up every one of the actor/character combos so rightly lauded above. Credit where credit is due, folks.

  12. tool
    August 9, 2010 at 2:07 pm — Reply

    Not sure where this fits, but when “Wizards of Waverly Place” is on I picture Hawkgirl (Maria Canals) as the mother. Ha, kids, Mom isn’t so normal after all!!!

  13. Damascus
    September 7, 2010 at 12:55 am — Reply

    Obvious, but Frank Welker. You know I was watching something the other day and hear a cat squealing like it’s tail was stepped on and was like, “Yep, that’s Frank.” Okay, not really, but it hurts my mind when I look at his Imdb page, just too much awesomeness in that list.

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