The visual style of the series, dubbed "Dark Deco," was based on the artwork of producer and artist Bruce Timm, The series was widely praised for its thematic complexity, dark tone, artistic quality and faithfulness to the character's crime-fighting origins. The series also won four Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Animated Program.
The program was more adult-oriented than previous superhero cartoon series. It was the first such cartoon in years to depict outright physical violence, bloodshed, drug use (though both the bloodshed and drug use were minimal due to network censors) and the use of firearms (though only one character was depicted as having been shot - Commissioner Gordon, in the episode "I Am the Night," is shown lying unconscious due to a gunshot wound he received offscreen). First-time producers Timm and Radomski reportedly encountered resistance from studio executives, but the success of Tim Burton's first Batman film allowed the embryonic series to survive long enough to produce a pilot episode, which, according to Timm, "got a lot of people off our backs."
Cartoon Network began airing re-runs of the series on March 2, 1998. From 1998 to 1999, the show was aired after Cartoon Network's action block Toonami, and then beginning in 2000 it was aired on Toonami itself.
Reruns of Batman: The Animated Series later aired on Toon Disney (which is now Disney XD) and the Hub Network (which is now Discovery Family).