DC Animated Universe

"Dreams in Darkness" is the twenty-eighth episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It first aired on November 3, 1992. It also marks the final time that Scarecrow is the main villain of an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.


Batman is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum

Batman is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.

In a cell at Arkham Asylum, Batman is strapped with a straitjacket. He's now the latest addition to the Arkham line of maniacs, and none of the staff will listen to a word he says, due to his apparent insanity. With no other choice, Batman starts recounting how he ended up in such a situation...

Some days before being locked in Arkham, he learns of a plan to poison a spa near Gotham. While he fights the man drilling into the spa's pipes, both are doused with the poisonous gas the man was going to pour into the system. Later on, though, Batman has other concerns as the man is hospitalized following a severe bout with hallucinations and nightmares, both extremely vivid. While examining the blueprints of the device used by the man on the Batcomputer, he briefly sees Joker reflected in the screen, but when attacking in response, it's just Alfred.

Realizing something's wrong, Batman enters the hospital to examine what has affected the man, and talks to the supervisor, Dr. Wu. While Wu has already analyzed and procured an antidote to counter the poison, its effects include sedating the target for two full days. Batman realizes that with a plot to poison the city's water supply going on, he can't risk sleeping for that long. He pockets the medicine without taking it and heads off to Arkham to search for the Scarecrow, the only man with the knowledge of fear to create such a chemical. However, while driving, he sees Robin standing in the middle of the road. He swerves, then crashes, and is promptly rescued and imprisoned by the Arkham staff.

Batman's worst nightmare

Batman's worst nightmare in which the gun that killed his parents is pointing straight at him.

As Batman's incoherent babbling and hallucinations grow worse, the Arkham administrator, Dr. Bartholomew, decides to take him in as a patient and ignore his pleas to call Commissioner Gordon and Dr. Wu, dismissing them as delirium. He leaves the cowl on him as he believes removing it could shatter the remains of Batman's sanity. Batman is straitjacketed and locked in a cell. When he tries to explain Scarecrow's plot to poison the city's water supply, the clueless Dr. Bartholomew simply dismisses this as well and assures him that Scarecrow is contained.

Scarecrow, safe in his lair, reveals the fact that Batman is now considered a madman, and that he tricked him into attacking the man trying to poison the spa to infect him. His giant pump machine is ensconced within the cave network below Arkham, which supplies Gotham with water. After filling it with his new fear toxin, he plans on releasing massive amounts into Gotham's supply, transforming it into a fear-filled inferno.

When Dr. Bartholomew finds out that Scarecrow isn't in his cell, he talks to Batman and finally believes him. However, he refuses to let him go after Scarecrow, as he is still intoxicated by the fear gas but promises to alert the police of Scarecrow's whereabouts. Realizing he has no other choice, Batman forces his way past the orderlies. He manages to overcome the first few but realizes he can't compete with a larger force of them if he's straitjacketed. He hides and manages to free himself of the straitjacket using a fire axe. A guard attempts to tranquilize Batman, but he dodges, and forces the guard to take him to the basement, then leaves him handcuffed.

Batman finds the entrance to the Arkham reservoir, but before he can attack Scarecrow's machine, he is again assaulted by hallucinations of practically all his rogues' gallery, and even Robin and Alfred play a part in a massive nightmare where Batman is attacked from all fronts and eventually dragged into an abyss, where he is devoured by a giant Scarecrow.

Scarecrow exposed to his toxins

Scarecrow is once again exposed to his own toxins.

Barely snapping out of it, he finds the giant pump and attacks it, but the hallucinations kick in again and he is left to attack what from his point of view is a horde of monsters (in reality, just a bunch of thugs). He again manages to overcome the fear and destroy the master console. However, Scarecrow foresaw that and had installed a second command console for such an eventuality. When he reaches the second console, however, he is finally plunged into a nightmare without end and sees a simple power cord as a vicious snake. Yanking it, he triggers the machine's destruction and manages to pull together and defeat Scarecrow, who is exposed to the gas when a tank containing it bursts.

Scarecrow ends up once more imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, screaming and muttering, and Batman is finally able to take the antidote. As he sleeps, a large bat shadow covers him.


Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production note[]

  • According to Bruce Timm, the gun rising out of the street wasn't initially meant to be dripping blood. "It wasn't intended to be blood, it was intended to be wreckage from the street. But they painted it red, and it looks like this big old gun dripping blood."[1]
  • Speaking on the episode's sound mixing, Bruce Timm recalls, "I had to fight with the music editor, Tom Milano, who's really good, about the way the music had been cued. It ran all the way up to firing of this large gun. Then it stops. I felt it wasn't working, because the music was fighting this great effect of those big huge cylinders cocking into place on the gun that the sound effects guys had come up with. I thought we had to stop the music before the cylinders cocked and told Tom I really wanted to try it this way. Eric agreed, so we set it up. Now the music stops just two beats sooner. And the sound of that gun is like the Crack of Doom right before it fires. It really sells it."[1]

Production inconsistencies[]

  • Batman is unable to free himself from the straitjacket, yet he was able to do so while chained upside down in a water torture tank in the previously produced and aired episode "Be A Clown". Although it may be because the Joker did not get an authentic one as he comments that they aren't made like they used to be.


  • Bruce Timm has stated that this is one of his favorite episodes of Batman: The Animated Series.[1]
  • This episode is possibly inspired by the Garfield Reeves-Stevens' text story "Masks" in The Further Adventures of The Joker.
  • The plot by the Scarecrow in this episode to poison Gotham City's water supply by using Arkham's basement is similar to the main plot of the 2005 film Batman Begins, the only major difference being that the Scarecrow was working with Ra's al Ghul, the plot's true mastermind, and the Scarecrow believed they were merely going to hold the city to ransom, unaware that Ra's was actually going to unleash the toxin on the entire city.
  • Joker's laughter in this episode is provided by Loren Lester, Robin's voice actor.
  • This plot may have been based on the storyline Batman: The Last Arkham, in which Batman commits himself to Arkham Asylum to investigate a series of grisly murders, only to be imprisoned by asylum administrator Jeremiah Arkham, who believes Batman to be truly insane.
  • When Batman is shown being wheeled in on a stretcher, he raves "Robin...look out...Joker's got a bomb!" This is a reference to Jason Todd, the second Robin in the comic book series, who was killed by a bomb set by the Joker. However, as Jason Todd didn't exist in the DCAU, it's likely that Batman was remembering a situation in which Robin and he had to deactivate a bomb planted by the Joker.
  • Dr. Bartholomew's design was modeled on his voice actor, Richard Dysart.
  • Dr. Bartholomew could be a reference to Dr. Bartholomew Wolper, the doctor that treated the Two-Face and the Joker and was killed by the latter in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
  • Scarecrow's mask has been slightly redesigned in this episode (though it's not much different from the previous one). The new mask does have some differences from the previous mask; it has a slightly different stitch job, the hair is also combed and much neater than before, the eye slits are smaller and the eyes, therefore, take up more room and the teeth are slightly smaller. The mask is also tighter than before with a smaller jaw.


Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred
Richard Dysart Dr. Bartholomew
Takayo Fischer Dr. Wu
Loren Lester Robin
Henchman (uncredited)
Joker (Hallucination) (uncredited)
Henry Polic II Scarecrow
Ron Taylor Orderly
Torchy (uncredited)

Uncredited appearances[]


Batman: (First-person narration) "There's always time to heal", the doctor told me, but he was wrong. There was no time left. Not for me, not for him, and not for Gotham City. And as long as I remained trapped in Arkham, there was nothing I could do, except wait for the end and remember the beginning.

Torchy: (hallucinating) Red eyes! Those teeth! Stay away!

Batman: Some thought I'd gone mad. Others thought I always had been. And so they put me where they thought I belonged.

Dr. Bartholomew: He can't possibly have left the grounds. Our security is absolute, completely...
Batman: No security is absolute. The Scarecrow's already proved that!

Dr. Bartholomew: I hope I'm not disturbing you.
Batman: Isn't that why I'm here? Because I'm... disturbed?

Batman: Robin. Alfred. You've got to help me.
Robin: It's too late for that, Bruce. You've lived in darkness too long.
Alfred: Yes, do come along, Master Bruce. It's time to come home.

Scarecrow: The great Batman scared out of his mind. How does it feel?

Scarecrow: An entire city screaming in fear. I wonder if we'll be able to hear it.

Dr. Bartholomew: (Watching an infected Scarecrow in his cell) He was right all along. This time, see if you can keep him in there.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Episode Guide" - Cinefantastique Vol. 24 #6/Vol. 25 #1 (February 1994)