“Aftershock” gave Terra a pretty final fate while not crossing any lines inappropriate for younger viewers. (I was very surprised that it also seemed to say goodbye to Slade in a pretty definite way — although I think that will be reversed before too long.) I found the end touching, perhaps because it is a more palatable way to deal with Terra than the comics did.
The comics had more time to set up Terra, and thus more material from which to draw pathos and tragedy. Terra’s story began in New Teen Titans #28 (1982) and lasted about 16-17 issues. Because that Terra wasn’t manipulated, abused, or misunderstood, her story turned out seedier and more disturbing. At the end of “The Judas Contract” (the 4-parter which wrapped up the arc), the Titans were reeling not just because they’d lost a friend and teammate, but also because they felt violated by the whole series of events. It was therefore fitting, and perhaps a way of healing for both characters and creators, that Wonder Girl’s wedding in Titans #50 — probably the happiest moment in Titans history — took place six months after the end of “Judas.”
Since such long-term arcs wouldn’t have worked for a half-hour cartoon, I’m impressed that “Aftershock” packed as much emotional impact as it did. The animated Terra was more rebellious than dangerous, and her journey to the “dark side” was less voluntary than her counterpart’s. As a teen hero on a show which glorifies teen heroes, she couldn’t be completely evil (which made the comics’ Terra even more daring, especially 20 years ago). The cartoon Titans don’t deal in subplotted angst like their print ancestors, nor should they. For what it accomplished, “Aftershock” honored “Judas Contract” as well as it could.
Besides, before too long the cartoon will take on the saga of Raven’s father Trigon, and we’ll see how it deals with another Titan’s literal dark side….