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 believes him to be a disgrace.
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 a man, Dr. Long, and asks to interview him about the recent robberies. While the two enter an elevator, Bruce Wayne heads on and joins the couple. Dr. Long snaps at Bruce angrily stating he believes that Bruce has disgraced the family name by being nothing more than a playboy. Though Summer tries to comfort Bruce, he’s still inwardly troubled. A helicopter lands on the University Bank and upon noticing it, Bruce heads out.
Meanwhile, two goons and a man dressed up as a scarecrow confront a bank guard. The Scarecrow sprays the guard with a red gas and the guard suddenly sees himself covered with spiders. The goons watch in confusion, as they see nothing. Scarecrow explains that he helped the guard see his worst fear. They then enter into the vault. Inside the vault 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. Scarecrow hurls some gas capsules at him, but Batman is wearing a gas mask. Scarecrow switches tack and shoots Batman with a drugged dart while Batman is struggling with one of the goons.
Scarecrow then sets fire to the gasoline and he and his men escape.
Batman manages to grab a scrap of Scarecrow’s mask but is weakened by the effects of the gas. While he tries to escape, he hears the voice of his father and sees a vision of his father telling him that he has disgraced the family name. Fortunately, 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 demands that Batman gives him the scrap of Scarecrow’s mask but Commissioner Gordon arrives and 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 for his experiments on other students involving fear and phobias.
Meanwhile, a ragged-looking Bruce does an analysis on Scarecrow’s mask and waits for his computer’s results. Bruce stares at a picture of his parents and trembles as he hears his father telling him that he failed him. When Alfred hears about the hallucinations, he assures Bruce that Thomas would be proud of him.
Later, at a Gotham University Museum benefit, people give donations to the university but the room is suddenly flooded with gas and Scarecrow waltzes in. He takes the donation money, and then takes Dr. Long prisoner.
When Batman arrives, the crowd now see Batman as a giant bat and attack him in panic. Batman manages to escape, 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.
Scarecrow believes that Batman has been killed by the panicked crowd, but learns otherwise when his goons point out the window. Scarecrow sends Anthony onto the blimp's body 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. As he tries to climb back onto the structure, his hallucination comes on again. However, Batman masters his fear and declares that he is not a disgrace: "I am veangence...I am the night...I am BATMAN!" The vision disappears, and Batman crashes into the cabin.
Scarecrow tries to hit Batman with his drugged darts again but accidentally hits his goon, Nigel, who sees himself trapped by shrinking prison walls. 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 manages to reach 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 runs into Batman and quakes 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 and claims he’ll bet his badge on it. Just then, Gordon points out that Scarecrow has been delivered to them and asks Bullock about his badge.
Later, Bruce leaves roses at his parents’ grave and silently walks away.
- Water sprinklers do not work on gasoline fires; the bank would 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." Ironically, Bruce's origin of Batman began when his parents were gunned down after seeing The Mark of Zorro. Bob Kane has said Zorro influenced the creation of Batman.
- 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.
- 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 gas the people of a restaurant to sleep.
- The security guard at the bank is reading a Tiny Toon Adventures comic book.
- The Danny Elfman theme is used twice in this episode.
- 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 costume instead of his first one shown in this episode.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne/Batman|
|Robert Costanzo||Harvey Bullock|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Mari Devon||Summer Gleeson|
|Kevin McCarthy||Dr. Long|
|Henry Polic II||Scarecrow|
Dr. Long: Your Father and I attended University together. He had big plans for you.
Thomas Wayne: Bruce... Bruce, you have failed me.
Anthony: Gee boss, I never liked school, but 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?