In a dormitory at Gotham University, Dick Grayson and his roommate, Brian Rogers, watch a sports newscast on a University football game from the day before. The report ends praising Brian's performance and his high likelihood of being drafted by a professional team. Brian is a little nervous about an upcoming game in which he will be monitored carefully, but Dick is sure he'll do fine.
Returning their attention to the TV, they are both taken aback by a report on a series of bizarre sports bloopers: several athletes – many of them odds-on favorites – suddenly have panic attacks in the middle of their games, causing them to lose.
Just then, there is a knock on the door and Brian answers it to a courier with a telegram. Brian is confused by the message and Dick has a look at what it says. It wishes Brian luck, but reminds him that "only a fool knows no fear" and they both agree this telegram is "weird."
On the day of the match, the situation is shockingly unexpected. Gotham University is down 24 to 3, with Brian looking sloppy and unfocused. When the ball is snapped and Brian is charged by the opposing players, he sees them as horrific monsters, and drops the ball, curling up in terror. The game is stopped so a medical team can see to him. Dick jumps down from the stands and runs to his friend, hearing him mumbling incoherently. The doctors take Brian to the infirmary, leaving behind a confused and concerned Dick.
Later that day, on night patrol, Robin asks Batman his take on his classmate's strange behavior. Batman believes it's just stress, but then they notice two robbers on the top of a building, attempting to get away with smuggled jewelry. Batman and Robin point their grapples and begin to reel up, but halfway up, Robin is overcome by fear and cannot move forward. Terrified, he begins sweating and shaking, loosing his grip on the grapple. Desperately, he clings onto the wall of the building, barely holding himself in place. Batman stops to see to him, and the robbers take advantage to hurl bricks at him. Batman tries to dodge them, but is eventually hit and falls off, barely able to grip the wall nearby Robin. He asks for Robin's help, but Robin is still trembling, frozen in place. Meanwhile, the two robbers manage to knock off one of the statues atop of the building, forcing Batman to let go rather than be hit by it. While falling, Batman manages to save himself with a spare grapple, then re-ascend the building before the two robbers can drop another statue on Robin. After subduing them, he takes Robin under his arm and lowers him slowly to the ground.
Considering it too coincidental for both Robin and his roommate to have had panic attacks in the same day, Batman goes with him to the University and investigate their dorm room. Batman finds the mysterious telegram and notices it staining his gloves with a strange powder.
At the Batcave, Batman analyzes the substance on the telegram. The chemical induces fear, but is triggered by the secretion of adrenaline. In other words, when the subject becomes agitated, it transforms excitement into fear. The chemical can have only one possible source... The Scarecrow.
They go to Arkham Asylum where a guard is given food to serve to the Scarecrow. However, he discreetly throws the food in the trash, and Batman confronts him. Though he insists Scarecrow is inside his cell, Batman takes the keys from him to check personally while Robin restrains him. As Batman enters the cell, the terrified guard wrestles free and runs as Batman removes Scarecrow's hat, revealing it to be a decoy. With that, Joker, who has just seen Batman walk inside, laughs at the outcome.
At a bookie's, Scarecrow (in disguise) collects his latest winning, over $28,000. Its owner, Leon the Bookie wonders why the mystery man has been winning so steadily, and Scarecrow just says he makes his own luck. Leon turns to one of his lackeys and asks him to follow Scarecrow and "be persuasive" with him.
The thug confronts Scarecrow at his hideout in an abandoned theater. When he demands to know how he keeps winning, Scarecrow merely gives him a trick telegram and removes his disguise. He moves closer to the thug, who has fallen into a terrified state.
The next day, Batman is called to the Police infirmary by Commissioner Gordon where they find the thug scared stiff, hidden under his bed. Batman explains Scarecrow's scheme: He is "fixing" games in order to win at gambling by disabling the favored candidates with his fear toxin.
Back at the cave, Robin is trying to overcome his fear by walking a narrow cliff, but Batman returns just in time to keep him from falling. Robin says he cannot help Batman, but he insists that he needs Robin's help at that night's football game.
Outside the stadium, Robin spots Scarecrow despite the big crowd and manages to follow him until he reaches the lockers. Robin hides behind a nearby hall-stand spots Scarecrow putting his toxin in one of the helmets. Once he leaves, Robin disposes of the helmet.
Shortly after, in the field, Gotham is leading and is close to winning the game. Scarecrow is puzzled by the delayed action of his toxin, when he is caught on the roof of the stadium by Batman. Panicked, Scarecrow pulls out a test-tube with the fear substance and threatens to drop it on the people below, causing mass panic. Batman is held at bay, and just to make sure, Scarecrow drops it anyway. The tube lands on the rim of a scaffold, and Batman goes after it.
As they struggle, the test-tube falls and Robin has no choice but to defeat his fear: he uses his grappler to swing towards the tube and catch it. Defeated, Scarecrow tries to escape, but has no chance.
Later, at Wayne Manor, Bruce and Dick watch TV in the living room, as Brian Rogers signs a much-desired contract with the Gotham Knights. Dick smiles at Bruce's suggestion to congratulate his roommate through a telegram.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- In the Arkham Asylum, as Batman walks towards the Scarecrow's cell, he walks past Joker, Poison Ivy and Two-Face; they're depicted wearing their criminal attire. As incarcerated patients they should all be wearing institutional uniforms and not their costumes.
- This was the first episode, airdate-wise, to feature Robin (though "Christmas with the Joker" was his first appearance in production order).
- Scarecrow's line "The fear of Victory and the agony of THE SCARECROW" is a pun on ABC Wide World of Sports' "The Thrill of Victory and the agony of Defeat".
- The Gotham Knights football team is introduced as an allusion to the Bat-family of crime fighters, who have also been referred to as the Gotham Knights.
- While the rest of the title cards in each episode of the series have their own theme music, the theme that plays in this episode's title card is the same that plays in the one in "Nothing to Fear".
- When one of the robbers calls Robin "Boy Blunder" an allusion is made to Robin's title of Boy Wonder, the name with which Robin was introduced in Detective Comics #38 in 1940.
- Scarecrow's appearance has changed from his original appearance, going from a sock puppet to a more skeletal "scarecrow" face. The producers still felt this appearance was not sufficiently scary, thus leading to a slight change for his next appearance and a complete revamp for The New Batman Adventures. Also, his tone of voice changes, where he goes from sounding like a college professor to a more grouchy and broken voice.
- Poison Ivy is briefly seen in a cell at Arkham, obviously having been transferred from Stonegate Penitentiary following her arrest in "Pretty Poison".
- The Gotham Knights would play the Colonials again in the Justice League episode "Secret Society, Part II", where they're revealed to be a team from Boston. However, in reality, the Boston Colonials are not a football club, but a Vintage Base Ball team.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman/Bruce Wayne|
|Bob Hastings|| Commissioner Gordon|
Team doctor (uncredited)
|Mark Hamill|| Joker |
Arkham guard (uncredited)
|Loren Lester||Robin/Dick Grayson|
|Chuck Moshontz|| Boseman|
|Tim Curry|| Leon's Henchman (uncredited)|
|Lauri Johnson|| Woman (uncredited)|
|Tom Williams|| Leon the Bookie (uncredited)|
Boseman: Heavily favored middle-weight champion, Rudy Lovell set two new records: one for the shortest fight in history, the other for the 50 yard dash. Goalie Rick Gale came up with another way to protect his goal; rather unorthodox, wouldn't you say, Rick? But effective. And here's top seed, Chris Adams making it seem like she's in the wrong racket.
Batman: The fear chemical is activated by adrenaline. So whenever you, or Brian, or any of the other athletes got agitated...
Joker: The cowl is familiar, but I'm blanking on the face!
Courier: Telegram for Mitch Nole.
Scarecrow: There's enough powder in that helmet to panic a pachyderm!
(After seeing Brian Rogers sign his contract for the Gotham Knights on the local news)