DC Animated Universe

The Bat-signal lit in Gotham City's blood red sky.

"You've a call on your private line."
Alfred Pennyworth[1]

The Bat-signal was a searchlight on the roof of the Gotham Police Department used to summon Batman for help when necessary.


The first attempt of a Bat-signal.

Curiously, the first version of the Bat-signal was an impromptu contraption fashioned by Charlie Collins in a desperate attempt to attract the Dark Knight's attention. He did so by swinging an antique set of glider wings (shaped like a bat's) back and forth across a window.[2] The actual Signal was eventually developed by Commissioner James Gordon, and first used to alert Batman to a puzzle delivered by Josiah Wormwood. Seeing it, Batman expressed concern that Gordon would get in trouble with Mayor Hill for installing it.[3]

Though Gordon usually used the signal, others did as well to summon Batman, such as Barbara Gordon when she believed that an impostor had replaced her father. At this meeting, the signal was partially destroyed when Batman was attacked by Harvey Bullock duplicant, and Barbara used Batman's grapple gun to pull the robot into the signal, electrocuting it.[4] Likewise, the real Harvey Bullock used the signal for the first time when reluctantly asking for Batman's help in discovering who was trying to assassinate him.[5]

On another memorable occasion, Bullock was once handcuffed to a pipe on the roof of police headquarters by Lock-Up, and the only way he could call for help was to reach the switch on the signal.[6]

There were a few occasions in which the Signal was used though to no avail. After the Penguin ransomed Gotham City with his newly acquired Raven X1-11 helicopter, Gordon used the signal as usual, but Batman had been temporary blinded and was unable to respond.[1] Also, when Batman was being hunted by the police on suspicions that he had murdered several gang lords, Bullock tried to use the Bat-signal to lure him in, but Batman did not respond.[7]

Batman's allies were also compelled to respond to the Bat-signal. Robin was once interrupted by the signal when he was searching for the runaway Annie.[8] When Nightwing decided to reconnect with Batman's crusade, he did so by responding to the bat signal with Robin.[9] During Batman's mysterious disappearance, Superman filled in as him and joined Robin in answering the Bat-signal.[10]

The Signal even played a significant role in a hallucination. When Batgirl was infected with Scarecrow's fear toxin, she imagined a fight breaking out involving Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Bane. In this battle, Batman electrocuted Bane by placing his Venom injection tubes into the bat signal. But before Bane died he pushed the Signal off its housing and rolled it at Batman and Gordon, causing them to plummet to their deaths.[11]

After Bruce Wayne retired as Batman, the signal was no longer used. Even when Terry McGinnis took up Batman's mantle, Barbara Gordon (now Police Commissioner, like her father) chose not to use the signal or one like it. Nevertheless, Paxton Powers used one to attract the new Batman's attention when his father, Derek Powers, degenerated into the villain known as Blight. On this occasion, McGinnis used a batarang to smash the signal. It was not seen again.[12]

Other Uses

"Look... must be trouble."
— a Gotham City diner[13]

Since the Bat-signal was visible in the sky to anyone, it became something of a legend in Gotham City, and was copied by several citizens. Matt attempted to use his Batman flashlight as a bat signal after he and his friends discovered Firefly attempting to burn down an old movie theater.[14] While Batman and Robin were investigating the Joker's appearance in Dakota, Static lost the signal device Batman had given him so he improvised by conjuring a Bat-signal out of static electricity and sending it in the air. When Tim pointed the improvised signal out to Bruce, the latter said that at least he didn't use a loudspeaker.[15]

The reputation of the Bat-signal was clearly well known outside of Gotham City, seeing as Luminus once used a mock "S-Signal" to draw Superman out.[16]

Sightings and references

Batman: The Animated Series

Feature film

Superman: The Animated Series

The New Batman Adventures

Feature film

Batman Beyond

Gotham Girls

Static Shock


  1. 1.0 1.1 Underwood, Mike, Wein, Len (story) & Wein, Len (teleplay) & Riba, Dan (director) (February 22, 1993). "Blind as a Bat". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 54 (airdate). Episode 59 (production). FOX Kids.
  2. Dini, Paul (writer) & Kirkland, Boyd (director) (September 11, 1992). "Joker's Favor". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 7 (airdate). Episode 22 (production). FOX Kids.
  3. Maggin, Elliot S. (writer) & Paur, Frank (director) (October 14, 1992). "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 25 (airdate). Episode 31 (production). FOX Kids.
  4. Stephens, Brynne (writer) & Altieri, Kevin (director) (November 17, 1992). "Heart of Steel, Part II". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 40 (airdate). Episode 39 (production). FOX Kids.
  5. Reaves, Michael (writer) & Paur, Frank (director) (September 14, 1995). "A Bullet For Bullock". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 4. Episode 4 (airdate). Episode 67 (production). FOX Kids.
  6. Dini, Paul (story) & Isenberg, Marty, Skir, Robert N. (teleplay) & Riba, Dan (director) (November 19, 1994). "Lock-Up". The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Season 3. Episode 9 (airdate). Episode 82 (production). FOX Kids.
  7. Melniker, B., Uslan, M. (Producers), & Radomski, E., Timm, B. W. (Directors). (1993). Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. United States: Warner Bros.
  8. Goodman, Robert (writer) & Dini, Paul & Goodman, Robert (story) & Tanaka, Atsuko (director) (February 28, 1998). "Growing Pains". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 8 (airdate). Episode 8 (production). Season 1. Kids WB!.
  9. Fogel, Rich (writer) & Geda, Curt (director) (October 3, 1998). "Old Wounds". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 5 (airdate). Episode 17 (production). Season 2. Kids WB!.
  10. Goodman, Robert (writer) & Geda, Curt (director) (October 10, 1998). "Knight Time". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 3. Episode 2 (airdate). Episode 43 (production). Kids WB!.
  11. Dini, Paul (writer) & Yano, Yuichiro (director) (May 23, 1998). "Over the Edge". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 11 (airdate). Episode 12 (production). Season 1. Kids WB!.
  12. Goodman, Robert (writer) & Suzuki, Yukio (director) (May 28, 1999). "Ascension". Batman Beyond. Season 1. Episode 13 (airdate). Episode 13 (production). Kids WB!.
  13. Dini, Paul, Timm, Bruce W. (story) & Dini, Paul (teleplay) & Riba, Dan (director) (May 16, 1994). "Trial". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 2. Episode 9 (airdate). Episode 68 (production). FOX Kids.
  14. Goodman, Robert (writer) & Goodman, Robert & Timm, Bruce (story) & Riba, Dan (director) (October 10, 1998). "Legends of the Dark Knight". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 6 (airdate). Episode 19 (production). Season 2. Kids WB!.
  15. Uhley, Len (writer) & Chlystek, Dave (director) (January 26, 2002). "The Big Leagues". Static Shock. Season 2. Episode 1 (airdate). Episode 24 (production). Kids WB!.
  16. Goodman, Robert (writer) & Tomonaga, Kazuhide (director) (September 26, 1997). "Solar Power". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 2. Episode 11 (airdate). Episode 24 (production). Kids WB!.