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Scream. Scream. Or I will make you scream.

The Scarecrow (Dr. Jonathan Crane) is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in World's Finest Comics #3 (Fall 1941) and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane.

A former psychiatrist who uses a variety of drugs and psychological tactics to exploit the fears and phobias of his adversaries, the Scarecrow is a member of Batman's rogues gallery; although he made only two appearances in the Golden Age of Comic Books,[1] the character was eventually revived during the Silver Age of Comic Books by writer Gardner Fox and artist Sheldon Moldoff in the pages of Batman #189 (Feb 1967) and has since become a staple Batman villain.[2]

The character of Scarecrow has featured in other DC Comics-endorsed products such as feature films, animation, and merchandise such as action figures. Irish actor Cillian Murphy portrayed the Scarecrow in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. In 2009, the Scarecrow was ranked as IGN's 58th Greatest Villain of All Time.[3]

Publication history[]

First appearing in World's Finest Comics #3 (Fall 1941), titled "Riddle of the Human Scarecrow", the Scarecrow is Dr. Jonathan Crane, a professor of psychology and expert in the psychology of fear, who turns to crime after being fired due to his eccentric behavior. His modus operandi is the adoption of a Scarecrow persona, used to threaten his victims into doing whatever he wants. Scarecrow is eventually defeated by Batman and Robin and sent to Gotham State Penitentiary. The Scarecrow escapes from jail in Detective Comics #73, not reappearing again until the 1960s-era Batman comics.

From Batman #189 (1967) onwards, the character becomes a recurring foe in the Silver Age Batman stories and also appears as a member of the Injustice Gang.

Following the 1986 multi-title event Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, the character's origin story is expanded in Batman Annual #19 and the miniseries Batman/Scarecrow: Year One; revealing that Crane has a fear of bats and is obsessed with fear and revenge from being bullied throughout his childhood and adolescence for his lanky frame and bookishness, especially his resemblance to Ichabod Crane from wikipedia:The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. After being humiliated by school bully Bo Griggs and rejected by cheerleader Sherry Squires, he takes revenge during the senior prom by donning his trademark scarecrow costume and brandishing a gun in the school parking lot; in the ensuing chaos, Griggs gets into a car accident, paralyzing himself and killing Squires.

Crane's obsession with fear leads to his becoming a psychiatrist, taking a position at Arkham Asylum and performing fear-inducing experiments on his patients. He is also a professor of psychology at Gotham University, specializing in the study of phobias. He loses his job after he fires a gun inside a packed classroom, accidentally wounding a student; he takes revenge by killing the professors responsible for his termination, and becoming a career criminal.[4] As a college professor, Scarecrow mentors a young Thomas Elliot.[5] The character also has a cameo in Sandman #5.

In stories by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, the Scarecrow is depicted as one of the more deranged criminals in Batman's rogues gallery, with a habit of speaking in nursery rhymes. These stories revise further his backstory, explaining that he was raised by his fanatically religious grandmother, whom he murdered as a teenager.

The Scarecrow appears in such story arcs as Knightfall and Shadow of the Bat, first teaming with the Joker to ransom off the mayor, and later by himself trying to take over the city with an army of hypnotized college students. In the 2004 story arc As the Crow Flies, Scarecrow is hired by the Penguin under false pretenses. Dr. Linda Friitawa then secretly mutates Crane into a murderous creature known as the "Scarebeast", who Penguin uses to kill off his disloyal colleagues.[6] However, the character's later appearances all show him as an unmutated Crane again, with the exception of an appearance during War Games.[7][8] The Scarecrow reappears alongside other Batman villains in Gotham Underground; the story arc ends with Scarecrow beaten and tied-up by Tobias Whale, as a sign to all "masks" that they are not welcome in Whale's new vision of Gotham, but the Scarecrow survives the ordeal.

His mastery of fear is such that the yellow power ring of Amon Sur tried to seek him out at Arkham after its masters death, though it was stopped before reaching him.

In the "Battle for the Cowl" storyline, Scarecrow is recruited by a new Black Mask to be a part of a group of villains that are aiming to take over Gotham in the wake of Batman's apparent death. He later assists the crime lord in manufacturing a new recreational drug called "Thrill," which draws the attention of Oracle and Batgirl. He is later defeated by Batgirl and once again arrested.

Blackest Night[]

Scarecrow briefly appears in the fourth issue of the "Blackest Night" storyline. His immunity to fear (brought about by frequent exposure to his own fear toxin) renders him practically invisible to the invading Black Lanterns. However, his current status of fearlessness has taken a further toll on his sanity, exacerbated by the long disappearance of Batman in the "Batman R.I.P." storyline; he develops a literal addiction to fear, exposing himself deliberately to the revenant army, but knowing that only Batman could scare him again.[9] He again appears in the sixth issue as he is deputized into the Sinestro Corps for 24 hours in order to combat the Black Lanterns. Overjoyed at finally being able to feel fear, Scarecrow gleefully and without question follows Sinestro's commands.[10] His joy is cut short when Lex Luthor, overwhelmed by the orange light of greed, steals his ring.[11]

Some time later during the events of Brightest Day, Scarecrow begins kidnapping and murdering college interns working for LexCorp as a way of getting back at Luthor for stealing his ring. When Robin and Supergirl attempt to stop his plans, Scarecrow unleashes a new fear toxin that is powerful enough to affect a Kryptonian. The toxin forces Supergirl to see visions of a Black Lantern Reactron, but she is able to snap out of the illusion and help Robin defeat Scarecrow.[12] He is eventually freed from Arkham when Deathstroke and the Titans break into the asylum in order to capture one of the inmates.[13]

Powers and abilities[]

The Scarecrow uses a variety of toxins that cause his victims to hallucinate that their phobias have come to life. He wears his Scarecrow mask to enhance the effect of the hallucinogen (instilling fear in all who see him) as well as to avoid being poisoned by his own toxin. Although not physically intimidating, Scarecrow can resort to physical combat, using a style called "violent dancing", based partly on the crane style of kung fu and on drunken boxing.

The Scarecrow is an expert on psychology, with a focus on fear, and is a certified professor on the subject. Due to prolonged exposure to his own gas, Scarecrow went from being frightened of bats to only being frightened of Batman.

Scarecrow is both addicted to fear and incapable of fearing anything except Batman, whom he compulsively seeks in order to ease his addiction after the Caped Crusader's apparent death.[14] Scarecrow is chosen as a bearer of the twin of Siniestro's yellow ring as a temporary Corpsman, giving him the powers of a member of the Sinestro Corps.


The Scarecrow at times wields a scythe which he uses in addition to his 'violent dancing'. Scarecrow also uses a hand-held fear gas sprayer in the shape of a human skull, straws which he leaves as a calling card, special straws which can be snapped in half to release a fear toxin (as seen in Batman: Hush), stuffed scarecrows which scare his victims, and a Yellow Lantern ring (as seen in the Blackest Night mini-series).

Other versions[]

Other versions of the character appear in Batman/Daredevil: King of New York, Marvel vs. DC and JSA: The Liberty Files.

Crimson Mist[]

Scarecrow appears in the third and final chapter of the Batman vampire series where his suit has been adorned with laces of severed fingers from past victims who he slaughters using a hand held sickle knife. His targets have become more specific as he is after the jocks who used to torment him in school. He is about to kill a former football player when vampire Batman appears, brutally noting that Scarecrow is almost worse than him; he now has no choice but to kill, but Scarecrow has a choice and yet he chose to prey on innocents. Scarecrow blubbers that his victims were not innocent and that they tormented him and scared him. Batman grabs Scarecrow's vial of fear gas, crushing it along with Crane's hand, stating that Crane has no idea what fear is as he uses Crane's own sickle to cut off his head.

In other media[]


  • The Scarecrow appears in the 1968 The Batman/Superman Hour episode "The Great Scarecrow Scare" voiced by Ted Knight. He does not use fear gas in this series. Instead, he uses knock-out gas which he keeps in eggs.
  • The Scarecrow appears in the 1978 Challenge of the Super Friends. He appears as a member of Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom voiced by Don Messick.
  • The Scarecrow appears in the Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode "The Fear" voiced by Andre Stojka.
  • The Scarecrow appears in the Batman: The Animated Series, voiced by Henry Polic II, and then in The New Batman Adventures by Jeffrey Combs. The Scarecrow's design was revamped in each of his appearances because producer Bruce Timm felt the character never actually looked scary; this problem was finally rectified with the design devised for The New Batman Adventures. Director Dan Riba said that he "evolved the most of all the characters", saying that "we got darker, darker, and darker with the character". Timm described the revamped look as resembling a "western preacher", complete with a noose around his neck, as well as a Texas Chainsaw Massacre Leatherface, kinda look, and it really had nothing to do with being a Scarecrow per se. But he was definitely scary". By the time they were done with his look, said writer/producer Paul Dini, "we weren't sure if there was an actual guy in the suit". He spoke in a low, rasping whisper, which the creators believed the character design should have sounded and were very pleased with.[15]
  • The Scarecrow appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Trials of the Demon!" voiced by Dee Bradley Baker and he is seen through other episodes.


  • Cillian Murphy portrays the Scarecrow in the 2005 feature film Batman Begins. In the film, Jonathan Crane is the head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, where he uses his fear gas to conduct experiments on his patients. Crane is under the employ of Gotham mob boss Carmine Falcone as well as the terrorist Ra's al Ghul, who provides the ingredients for his fear gas. This version of the Scarecrow wears a burlap sack with a built-in rebreather, which doubles as a gas mask in his fear experiments. Murphy explained that the relatively simple mask, as opposed to the full scarecrow costume usually seen in the comics, was done because Murphy "wanted [the Scarecrow] to avoid the Worzel Gummidge look, because he's not a very physically imposing man - he's more interested in the manipulation of the mind and what that can do."
  • Cillian Murphy reprises his role in a diminished capacity for the 2008 sequel: The Dark Knight. Crane appears as having cornered the local drug trade, but with his fear-inducing drugs after Batman has taken out much of the competition. Here, he makes deals with local gangsters before a group of Batman impostors try to stop the meeting in a local parking garage. When the real Batman arrives, he quickly defeats the Scarecrow by jumping on a van Crane tried to escape with. Crane is presumably taken back to Arkham.
  • In the direct-to-DVD animated production Batman: Gotham Knight, Corey Burton voices the Scarecrow during the character's appearance in the segment "In Darkness Dwells". The Scarecrow gathers an army of Arkham inmates in the sewers and uses Killer Croc to get them from above.

Video games[]

The Scarecrow appears in seven video games: Game Boy's Batman: The Animated Series, Super Nintendo and Mega Drive/Genesis's The Adventures of Batman & Robin, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, Batman Begins (a tie-in to the 2005 movie) (voiced by Cillian Murphy), Lego Batman: The Videogame, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame.

  • The Scarecrow appears in Lego Batman: The Videogame (vocals by Dave Wittenberg), where he is an enemy of Batman and a henchman of the Joker. He has only one special ability: mind control, with which he can make guards open doors. He also sprays his fear gas which petrifies his victims. In addition he makes full use of his "violent dancing" martial arts skills in unarmed combat.
  • The Scarecrow appears as a recurring boss in Batman: Arkham Asylum voiced by Dino Andrade. In Arkham Asylum he has several fluorescent orange hypodermic needles strapped to the fingers of his right hand (a homage to Freddy Krueger) and wears a hood over his scarecrow mask, which has gas mask tubes protruding from the cheeks. In the game he appears several times, flooding parts of Arkham Asylum with his fear toxin, causing Batman to suffer hallucinations, some depending on the situation in the game, followed by a surreal and disjointed obstacle course where Batman attempts to evade a giant Scarecrow's gaze before breaking free from the hallucination. In his third and last appearance, the Scarecrow reveals that he intends to dump his most potent fear gas into Gotham's water supply but before he has the chance he is grabbed and dragged into the water by Killer Croc. The ending cutscene has a chance of showing his gloved hand emerging from the water and grabbing a crate stamped with the word "Titan".
  • The Scarecrow is a boss in the DS version of Batman: The Brave and the Bold – The Videogame.


  1. Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics: Scarecrow of Earth-2. Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  2. Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics: "Fright of the Scarecrow," Batman #189 (Feb 1967). Retrieved July 31, 2008.
  3. Scarecrow is number 58 IGN. Retrieved 10-05-09.
  4. Batman Annual #19
  5. Batman: Heart of Hush
  6. "As the Crow Flies" story arc - Batman #627, July 2004
  7. Villains United #6
  8. Villains United Special
  9. Blackest Night #5 (2009)
  10. Green Lantern (Vol. 4) #50
  11. Blackest Night #7 (2010)
  12. Superman/Batman #77
  13. Titans (vol. 2) #28
  14. Blackest Night #4, 6
  15. Batman - Arkham Files

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