"Nothing to Fear" is the third episode of the first season of Batman: The Animated Series. Due to schedule changes it was the tenth episode to air. A criminal calling himself The Scarecrow starts wreaking havoc in revenge against Gotham University, stealing funds while intoxicating people with a gas that causes nightmarish hallucinations. When Batman first tries to stop him, he gets intoxicated, and begins to see his worst fear: his father considering him to be a failure.
A Gotham University Charity Book Signing is in progress, and the guests talk about the string of robberies and vandalism that has been plaguing the university. Summer Gleeson greets one of the university's professors, Dr. Long, and asks to interview him about the recent robberies as he makes his way out. The two enter the elevator and encounter Bruce Wayne. Long tells Bruce that he attended university with Thomas Wayne, who had big plans for his son. Bruce assures Long that his father would have been at least pleased that Wayne Enterprise has made great profits, but Dr. Long huffs in disagreement. He believes that Bruce has disgraced the Wayne family name by acting nothing more than a rich playboy, adding that it was fortunate that Thomas had not lived to see what had become of his son. Though Summer tries to assure Bruce that Dr. Long is only angry because of the troubles of the university, it's obvious that his words are troubling him. While looking out the elevator windows, Bruce notices a helicopter landing on the University Bank and heads out.
Meanwhile, two goons and a man dressed up as a scarecrow blast a hole in the ceiling and are confronted by the security guard. The Scarecrow sprays the guard with a gas, and the guard writhes in horror as he suddenly sees himself covered with spiders. The goons watch in confusion, as they see nothing. The Scarecrow explains that he helped the guard see his worst fear: arachnophobia. They then head into the vault, where Scarecrow instructs his goon to take only what money he can carry, then to burn the rest of it; his primary goal is revenge, not theft.
As Scarecrow pours gasoline, Batman arrives and quickly subdues the thug, Nigel, outside the vault, throwing him at the Scarecrow's feet. After the other goon, Anthony, jumps Batman, Scarecrow shoots Batman with a drugged dart. Scarecrow then sets fire to the gasoline, and he and his men escape.
Batman has managed to grab a scrap of Scarecrow’s mask, but is weakened and somewhat disoriented by the effects of the gas. While he tries to escape, he hears a voice and then sees a vision of his father in the flames telling him that he has disgraced the family name. The fire sprinklers come on and extinguish the fire, but Batman is still affected. The police arrive and question Batman about who attacked the bank. Harvey Bullock arrives and attempts to intimidate Batman for some answers. Commissioner Gordon arrives and demands to know what Bullock is doing. As Bullock tries to explain, Batman disappears.
Elsewhere, Scarecrow watches a newscast on Batman's thwarting of the fire. As he rants, his goons wonder why Scarecrow hates the university so much. He explains that he used to be a professor of psychology at the University until he was expelled, having been caught going too far with his experiments on students involving fear and phobias, and as a result was branded a "lunatic."
Meanwhile, a still weakened Bruce does an analysis on Scarecrow’s mask. As he waits for his computer’s results, he struggles to fight the effects of the gas. He stares at a picture of his parents and trembles as he hears his father telling him that he failed him. A news report on another screen shows Summer reporting on the arson attempt and Batman's failure to catch the perpetrator. Bruce hallucinates Summer saying how he "failed" repeatedly. Alfred switches the TV off before the hallucination can get worse, and inquires as to whether Bruce is alright. When Alfred is told about the hallucinations, he firmly assures Bruce that Thomas would be proud of him.
Later, at a Gotham University Museum benefit, the room is suddenly flooded with gas and Scarecrow waltzes in. As the guests go into crazed hallucinations, Scarecrow takes the donation money and then sprays Dr. Long with his fear toxin, taking him prisoner.
When Batman arrives, the crowd now sees Batman as a giant bat and attack him en masse in a hysterical panic. Batman manages to escape the crowd, but Scarecrow has already escaped onto a dirigible and flees, trailing the gas hose that was pumping fear gas into the building's air conditioning ducts. As the hose pulls free, Batman manages to grab hold of it and climb up.
Scarecrow believes that Batman has been killed, but Anthony points at Batman holding onto the dirigible. Scarecrow sends him outside to get rid of Batman. In the ensuring fight, bullets are fired into the control cabin, staring a fire. Now out of control, the dirigible crashes into a building and Batman and Anthony tumble off together. Batman manages to keep hold on the dirigible with his grapple gun, but Anthony plummets several stories, fortunately landing on an awning.
As Batman tries to climb back onto the dirigible, his hallucination comes on again. However, Batman masters his fear and declares that he is not a disgrace: "I am vengeance... I am the night... I am BATMAN!" The vision disappears, and Batman swings around to crash into the dirigible's cabin.
Scarecrow tries to hit Batman with his drugged darts again but accidentally hits Nigel, who sees himself trapped by shrinking prison walls. Nigel panics and leaps out the broken window, landing safely in a convenient tree. Seeing that he’s lost, Scarecrow escapes on a glider leaving Batman and the professor alone on the dirigible. Batman manages to save Dr. Long before the dirigible crashes.
With Dr. Long saved, Batman summons the Batmobile and checks to see the results of the mask’s analysis. The computer reveals that only five places manufacture such chemicals and Batman cross-references them against former employees of Gotham University. Only one place fits the bill: Crane Chemicals, owned and founded by Jonathan Crane.
Scarecrow reaches his chemical plant and removes his mask. However, he discovers that his fear gas has been released into the room and he sees visions of a giant bat attacking him. He then smacks into Batman and cringes away, quaking in fear. As Batman reaches for him, Crane sees him as a giant bat-like demon.
Back at the Gotham Police Department, Bullock tries to convince Gordon that Batman and Scarecrow are working together. Gordon points to the ceiling, revealing Crane dangling unconscious from the ceiling fan.
Later, Bruce leaves roses at his parents’ grave and silently walks away.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Legend Begins (VHS)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Legend Begins (DVD)
- The Danny Elfman theme is used twice in this episode.
- Production-wise, this is the last episode to feature Clive Revill's voice as Alfred Pennyworth before he left due to a previous commitment. After Revill left, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. took over Alfred's role for the rest of the series and the DCAU.
- This episode was adapted into the game The Adventures of Batman and Robin for the SNES as the sixth stage, "Perchance To Scream", although Scarecrow appeared in his third mask instead of his first one shown in this episode.
- Water sprinklers do not work on gasoline fires, so the bank should have burned to the ground even faster.
- This was the first episode of the series to feature Batman's past. Only the 1989 movie from Tim Burton, and an episode of the Super Powers Team (the last season of the Superfriends), incidentally also featuring the Scarecrow as main villain, explored the Dark Knight's origins outside comics medium before this episode.
- Bullock mentions Batman's refusal to comply with the investigation, saying to Gordon "Zorro here's been holding evidence". Incidentally, the character of Zorro was once of the major influences of Bob Kane.
- This episode marks the first appearance of the Scarecrow, as well as the first of Bruce's late father, Thomas Wayne.
- At one point the Batmobile computer shows a list of nearby chemical companies. Among the companies shown are S.T.A.R. Labs from Superman's comics, which would later be featured in Superman: The Animated Series, and Axis Chemicals, which is the company that turned Jack Napier into the Joker in the 1989 Batman movie.
- Near the end of the episode, the people of the university are exposed to fear toxin and attack Batman in fear of him. Later, Batman exposes the Scarecrow to the fear toxin, which causes him to hallucinate that Batman is a monstrous bat-like creature. Similar scenarios later occur in the movie Batman Begins. The former was similarly used in the 1989 movie in which Joker gasses the people of a restaurant to sleep.
- The security guard at the bank is reading a Tiny Toon Adventures comic book.
- Batman's line "I am vengeance... I am the night... I am BATMAN!" became somewhat iconic, and was used by Cartoon Network throughout their advertising campaign when they first began airing Batman: The Animated Series. The line has also become a signature of Kevin Conroy, and he oftens performs it the start of his appearances at conventions. It was also used as the opening line of the Batman musical in "Out of the Past".
- The line is also part of Green Arrow's "Batman impression" in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, in the episodes "Dawn of the Dead Man!" and "Night of the Batmen".
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne/Batman|
|Robert Costanzo||Harvey Bullock|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Mari Devon||Summer Gleeson|
|Kevin McCarthy||Dr. Long|
|Richard Moll|| Bat-Computer|
Thomas Wayne (uncredited)
|Henry Polic II|| Scarecrow|
Security Guard (uncredited)
Dr. Long: Your father and I attended university together. He had big plans for you.
Scarecrow: What hidden terror keeps the Batman awake at night?
Thomas Wayne: Bruce... Bruce, you have failed me.
Commissioner Gordon: Bullock! What the blazes is going on here?
Anthony: Gee, boss, I never liked school, but, uh, how come you hate the university so much?
Alfred: Imagine that, sir.
Alfred: I know your father would be proud of you, because, I'm so proud of you.
Scarecrow: My revenge is complete! The university is in the grip of fear, and Batman has been annihilated!
Thomas Wayne vision: You are a disgrace!
Batman: What's the matter, Scarecrow? Can't handle your own medicine?