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"It's Never Too Late" is an episode of the first season of Batman: The Animated Series. It features the introduction of criminals Rupert Thorne and Arnold Stromwell.

"It's Never Too Late" is the 12th episode to be produced and the sixth to be aired.


Gotham City is racked by a gang war between Arnold Stromwell and his rival Rupert Thorne. Now, only Batman and a mysterious priest can convince Stromwell to "do the right thing" and surrender his secrets to the cops.


INTL 05 - Arnold Stromwell

Stromwell's empire starts crumbling

In his estate, Arnold Stromwell, Gotham's reigning but aging crime boss, is watching the news. The lead item is the worsening conflict between himself and upcoming boss Rupert Thorne. That much he knows, but he has other concerns regarding his son Joey, who has been missing for days. He and his son were estranged, but Stromwell is convinced that Thorne is behind this and orders his men to set up a meeting with him.

Batman, disguised as a hobo, is eavesdropping on Thorne , and plots to assassinate Stromwell after receiving his message.

On the way to the meeting, Stromwell passes an old rail yard, and has a flashback: two young boys, Arnie and Michael, are arguing on their way home. Arnie has stolen a handful of candy and is offering half to Michael, who refuses to take any. Arnie swears that one day he will own Gotham. But as they walk home, a train roars up the tracks at the boys. Michael dives out of the way, but Arnie's shoe is stuck. He manages to free himself and jump onto the neighbouring track in time, but is immediately faced with another approaching train and freezes in fear...

Shaking off the memory, Stromwell enters a deli controlled by Thorne for the meeting.

Elsewhere, Batman approaches an elderly priest and asks for his help. With a sigh, the priest says that Arnold Stromwell is someone he wish he could let go. All the same, Batman encourages him to help.

INTL 23 - Stromwell and Thorne

Unlikley meeting

At the deli, Thorne acts affable, but Stromwell seizes him and demands to know where his son is. Seeming genuinely surprised, Thorne swears he had nothing to do with Joey's disappearance. Calming down, Stromwell accepts Thorne's invitation to sit—then realizes he has been set up as Thorne and the deli owner run out the back. A bomb inside the deli explodes.

Stromwell has been saved by Batman, who asks him to give up his criminal ways and turn state's evidence. Stromwell acts defiant, but Batman decides to take him on a "tour".

As the police investigate the bombing, a hobo comes forward and states that he saw Batman save Stromwell. One of Thorne's thugs overhears this and reports to his boss, who then orders an attack on Batman and Stromwell.

The first place Batman takes Stromwell to is his old neighborhood, where he started as an ordinary drug peddler, then to Sunrise Foundation, a drug rehabilitation center. Inside, Stromwell is shocked to find his estranged wife, Connie Stromwell, who is attending to Joey Stromwell, suffering from severe drug withdrawal pains. Stromwell rages, but is brought up short when Connie says that it was one of his own dealers who got Joey addicted, and it was Batman who rescued him and alerted her.

Appearing contrite, Stromwell agrees to hand over files incriminating himself and Thorne to Batman. But at the empty office he leads Batman to, Stromwell slips him a stack of dummy files, and uses his distraction to grab a gun, saying he won't go down so easily. Once he's finished with Thorne, he'll "rescue" Joey from the rehab center. Suddenly a tear gas grenade comes soring through the window and they are both attacked by Thorne and his gang.

Both don gas mask and using the cloud to his advantage Batman subdues Thorne's thugs, while Stromwell flees, with Thorne himself in pursuit. As Stromwell runs, he finds himself back at the old rail yard, and remembers the rest of the flashback: Just before the train hits, Arnie manages to get his shoe free, and stumbles out of the way—straight onto the next track as a second train is bearing down on him. Michael pushes Arnie out of the way, and the train roars over him, Arnie screaming "Michael! Michael... !".

INTL 60 - Michael tries to save Arnold

Michael saves Arnold

Stromwell collapses, sobbing "Michael... Michael...". A voice answers, "I'm here, Arnie". The old priest steps into the light, Father Michael Stromwell. He wasn't killed, but lost a leg, something for which Stromwell never forgave himself. Out of guilt, he angrily rejects Michael's help, only to be reminded of the current dismal state of his life: his family is broken, his son is gravely ill, his empire is crumbling, and his enemies are closing in. Michael appeals to Stromwell, asking him to do the right thing, for his family and for himself. Stromwell hugs his brother, sobbing.

Thorne suddenly appears with a gun, ready to kill them both, but Batman arrives just in time to subdue him. The police arrive on the scene and Stromwell prepares to give them a statement as Batman slips away into the night.


Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne/Batman
Robert Costanzo Harvey Bullock
Bob Hastings James Gordon
Townsend Coleman Chick
Paul Dooley Father Michael
Jeff Doucette Gabe
Linda Gary Constance Blaine
Katherine Helmond Connie Stromwell
Peter Jason Mason
Alan Roberts Young Arnie
Eugene Roche Arnold Stromwell
John Vernon Rupert Thorne
Josh Weiner Young Michael

This article uses material from the It's Never Too Late article at the DCAU Wiki and is licensed under the CC BY-SA License.