Welcome to another special edition of Adventure(s) Time, where we look back on animated heroes of the past. This week, I'll address a question posed by a few readers. Why couldn't the Scarecrow keep a consistent look on Batman: The Animated Series? And is there a lost story behind his most drastic makeover?
Let's Go Back To...The Super Friends?
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Scarecrow debuted all the way back in World's Finest Comics #3 (Fall 1941). Although he never appeared in the famous Adam West television series, he was included in the popular Superfriends cartoon. In fact, the Superfriends spinoff, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians has Scarecrow at the center of a memorable episode. "The Fear" was the first outside media retelling of Batman's origin. Its writer, Alan Burnett, hoped the episode might lead to a more mature Batman series, more true to the comics. This didn't happen, unfortunately. (But years later, the episode played a part in Burnett joining Batman: The Animated Series.)
Production on Batman began with the producers determined to use as many classic villains as possible. Scarecrow was one of the first selected, debuting in the episode "Nothing to Fear."
What distinction does "Nothing to Fear" hold? For featuring an utterly bland, not frightening in any way rendition of the Scarecrow. Producer Bruce Timm reportedly hated the look so much, he immediately went back to his drawing board to redesign Scarecrow. This made Scarecrow the only character to become redesigned during the initial Batman run.
Now Scarier...With Straw!
The result of Timm's tinkering debuted in "Fear of Victory." This Scarecrow dropped the impossibly mangled anatomy of the original design, in addition to the simple sack covering his face. The new Scarecrow bulked up a bit, with added detail on his mask and a mane of straw-hair. A more distinctive look, animated quite well by Japanese studio TMS in his debut. But...was he that frightening?
After going off the air for two years, the fledgling WB! Network revived the show as The New Batman Adventures in 1997. Every character received a redesign for the show. (Largely to make the show consistent with its sister series, Superman: The Animated Series.) Many models stayed essentially the same, only with more angular lines and simplified looks. The Scarecrow, however, underwent what could've been the most drastic redesign of the series.