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Why Did Batman: The Animated Series Keep Redesigning Scarecrow?

The "ReAnimated" Scarecrow

Initially voiced by character actor Henry Polic II with a timorous British accent, the producers brought in horror film vet Jeffrey Combs to give Scarecrow a creepier tone. Matching that voice was a horrific design. (One Timm acknowledges bears some resemblance to Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies.) As producer Paul Dini has jokingly described in the past, the original Scarecrow was "always something not too quite scary." The new Scarecrow's creepy makeover includes a shadowy, deformed face, western preacher ensemble, and hangman's noose necktie. And this look has enjoyed great influence. Most renditions of Scarecrow borrow at least something from it. That noose-necktie has become rather popular with artists.

The revamped Batman wasn't concerned with providing origins for the new looks of its cast, leaving tie-in comics with a perfect opportunity to fill the gap. Ty Templeton, who wrote around a third of the Adventures canon, had a story in mind for how the Scarecrow so radically changed. He was gracious enough to explain the following:

Basically, my Scarecrow bit was that Crane had been found guilty of a murder and was sentenced to be hanged (by some state that still had hanging on its books as a method of capital punishment, even though, yes, there were not any states left doing that...). During the execution, the rope snapped, and Crane survived. He escaped shortly after the botched attempt, and from that moment forward, wore the noose around his neck as a symbol of his (nutty) belief that he couldn't be killed.

Unfortunately, Ty left the Gotham Adventures comic before he could address this mystery. Would fans ever experience the lost origin of Scarecrow's new look?  Well, decades later, an answer was given...

The World's Most Fearsome Merchandising Machine

In 2016, DC and IDW joined forces to publish Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. The miniseries, by Matthew K. Manning and Jon Sommariva, was intended for five issues. Ultimately, six were ordered. Manning had the inspiration to set the final issue years after the previous five, taking advantage of the New Adventures era of Batman.

In previous issues, the Scarecrow found himself traveling to the Turtles' dimension. On his way home, he encountered Dimension X and the fearsome aliens of the Kraang. Returning to Arkham Asylum, the villain had a new resolve -- a scarier look that could protect him from these alien invaders. So, the final page of #5 brings us...

As Manning explained in an interview with the Dark Knight News website:

But since our original story had concluded, we needed another starting point. That’s why we jump to the The New Batman Adventures style with issue #6. It was to set it apart from the rest of the series and make it special at the same time. I went back to issue #5 and added the Scarecrow epilogue to help tease issue #6, so the readers would know there was more to come and that we might just get to see these Kraang aliens after all…

So, nearly twenty years later, in the pages of an intercompany crossover, fans finally received their answer. Who could've guessed it involved a successfully rebranded Ninja Turtles franchise?

That’s all for now. If you have any episodes of an animated series you’d like to see covered, just leave a comment or contact me on Twitter.

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