We at CBR recently counted down the 15 best villains to appear in the much lauded "Batman: The Animated Series." However, for being such an iconic cartoon for the character, the show was not immaculate as far as bad guys go.
Sure, we had fantastic chapters chronicling Harvey Dent's struggles with his dual personality, Harley's successful duo crime streak with Poison Ivy or even the Clock King's time-bending ploys to kill Mayor Hill, but upon revisiting the series, however, "Batman" was also full of plenty of lame, silly or otherwise unremarkable rogues that filled out its 85-episode run. Today, we're counting down some of the worst to appear in the show, and are all the more grateful for the better villains that overshadowed them.
15 Captain Clown
An incredible head-scratcher of a villain for sure, Captain Clown appeared in a single episode dubbed "The Last Laugh." In it, this robot rogue piloted a barge full of garbage at the behest of the clown prince in an effort to spread his Joker laughing gas across Gotham. Even though he was made of metal, the Joker had him outfitted with an oversized boating outfit and clown face. Captain Clown went toe-to-toe with Batman and presented a tough challenge, as he was impervious to the gas that was permeating all around them (Batman had to fight with a gas mask on). Unfortunately, the Caped Crusader bested the bot and dispatched him via a car crushing machine.
How Joker procured a robot with artificial intelligence is completely up to speculation, but he did seem to have a soft spot for the droid. When Batman dropped the bot, he incredulously repeated: "You killed Captain Clown!" Maybe Captain Clown was a convenient excuse to have Batman drop a bit of violence on a baddie since he was a robot, but it doesn't make this rogue's appearance in the show any less mind-boggling.
Vying to be more than just a simple conman, former actor Carl Fowler took on the identity of Nostromos to fool Gotham's rich and famous into giving him millions of dollars based on his false predictions of death and disaster. In his debut episode, "Prophecy of Doom," Fowler crafted a full-fledged organization of followers whom he called the Brotherhood. He encouraged all members to contribute to a mass fund for protection against a massive impending economic downturn, with the intention of making off with it later. His plan was found out by Bruce Wayne first rather than Batman, though, when Bruce became concerned about a close, similarly loaded friend named Ethan that had been fooled by Fowler's personae.
Perhaps most silly about Nostromos outside of his glorified evangelist-like scam, was his last stand during this episode. He blackmails Ethan to give over control of the mass fund, threatening the life of Ethan's daughter by tying her to a replica of Mars in a giant model of the solar system. Fowler was a hapless conman and far from the villainous masterminds we see in other episodes. Thank goodness he didn't have a follow up.
13 Condiment King
While Harley Quinn is a fan favorite these days, not all villains created just for the animated series were outright home runs. Condiment King was a character introduced to the show as a comic relief of sorts. The poor rogue was dressed to the nines in bright blue spandex with actual underpants on the outside, dual-wielding squirt guns attached to tanks full of various condiments on his back, and sported a helmet shaped like a pickle. King tried his best to defeat Batman, slinging awful puns alongside toppings such as "Parting is such sweet-and-sour sorrow." Condiment King was such a sad sack that he was dropped by a single gut punch from Batman and the Dark Knight even admonished him for being such a newbie villain.
It was later found out the Condiment King was really a poor stand up comedian that was brainwashed by the Joker and set out on the streets. Regardless, the so-called "sultan of sauce" was completely clueless at being a rogue. His own robbery victims didn't even take him seriously and he ended up defeating himself when he slipped on some ketchup and fell off a balcony. Condiment King was a poor excuse of a villain and, much to his "dis-mayo," never had another episode in the show.
12 The Terrible Trio
Oh man, where to even start with these guys? These three rogues venture out into Gotham wearing a shark, vulture and fox mask respectively. They rob places for various loot, in it entirely for the thrill of feeling like apex predators preying on the city by night. Problem is, Bruce Wayne figures out that this trio of never-do-wells are actually young wealthy socialites he's met before at charity events. The young men unravel, as their quest for spice in their "boring" lives eventually gets the attention of a certain Dark Knight.
The terrible trio are just the worst kinds of villains. Over-glorified, rich frat boys whom steal for a sense of adventure to break them out of the monotony of being painfully wealthy. Each of the men in the team were predictably shallow and often chose to flee the Dark Knight rather than facing him down directly. While it's nice to see that not all of Batman's villains started out as scientists, researchers or tragic experiments, the Terrible Trio felt like haphazard filler, and we were all too happy to see them put down by the Bat.
Equal parts sad and kind of silly, Lloyd Ventrix stole an experimental invisibility suit so he could easily pull off jewel heists. Ventrix was an ex-convict going through a divorce from his wife, who labeled him a dangerous felon that brought trouble to their family. Due to this, Lloyd couldn't see much of his daughter legally, so he visited her at night in his suit to give her some of the jewels he had stolen. His daughter Kimberly, (who presumably doesn't realize it is her father in disguise) relishes the gifts and lovingly nicknames her new friend "Mojo."
Lloyd fell into the bad criminal-trying-to-be-better-by-committing-more-crimes trope and was one of the weaker rogues in the series. He only managed to sucker punch Batman a few times due to his invisibility, but even then the Caped Crusader thought of inventive ideas to reveal him, such as throwing a can of paint his way or dousing him with water. Even sadder, when Lloyd reveals himself as Mojo, his daughter is terrified and Batman intervenes to very quickly make him "disappear" behind bars.
The very first villain to appear in the debut episode of "Batman: the Animated Series," Man-Bat terrorized Gotham by night in "On Leather Wings." Man-Bat was really a zoologist named Kirk Langstrom who was researching (wait for it) bats. The doctor got wrapped up in his own ambition, drinking a serum that mutates himself into the half-man/half-beast creature. Man-Bat went on a rampage, leading the police on a wild chase and leaving Batman in the dust. Of course, the hero eventually put a stop to the creature's antics and is able to return the doctor to his original form permanently with an antidote.
Langstrom was a psuedo-Bruce Banner with the bat creature inside of him being his shoddy Hulk. The series tried to make him a human character caught up in forces beyond his measure, but came up short. Man-Bat himself didn't do much other than fly around and make the several blimp captains in the area do a double take. To make things worse, the mutated Langstrom is defeated by having his eyes covered and accidentally flying into a wall. Man-Bat wasn't just silly, he could easily be defeated by a sliding glass door.
9 Maxie Zeus
Give a guy an inch, this one takes a mile. Maximillian Zeus was a shipping magnate that was involved with smuggling for the mafia and suffered a psychotic break. Zeus felt so untouchable in his wealth and power that he began to think he was actually the god Zeus reborn to live above the laws of mere men. This guy went all in with his delusion, going as far as wearing ancient Greco-Roman garb and addressing Batman as his brother Hades. He planned to use a giant electricity cannon to rule over Gotham but (of course) was stopped by Batman and placed into much-needed psychiatric care.
Maxie was just a sad sap of a man that became so completely disassociated with the world. Instead of it being tragic like Mr. Freeze, it was silly and kooky without a lot of reason behind it. Zeus wasn't taken seriously by any of the characters in his episode, including Batman. His fight against the Caped Crusader was underwhelming too. Maxie used the equivalent of a modified stun rod and was eventually electrocuted by it, defeating himself before the hero laid a hand on him.
8 Mad Bomber
In what was possibly the most meta episode in the series, "Beware the Gray Ghost" featured one of the most lackluster villains. Ted Dymer was a toy shop owner that desperately wanted to buy memorabilia from the TV superhero serial called "The Gray Ghost," but couldn't afford it. The owner instead used his current collection of remote-controlled toy cars to plant bombs across Gotham, demanding ransom from the city in order to save whatever he planned to demolish next. Batman teams up with the former lead actor on the show "Simon Trent" to uncover the identity of the new Mad Bomber and put him away for good.
For as much of an awesome reference to the original '60s "Batman" show the episode was, Dymer amounted to nothing more than a stereotypical nerd character. He was obsessed with toys and engrossed with a TV show enough to reenact it in real life. Dymer was childish and silly, hiding behind his RC car bombs and being a crybaby when he was defeated. The Mad Bomber was one villain we were happy was put in permanent time out from the show.
7 Boss Biggis
From one extreme to another, Boss Biggis was a fat, mean slob of a dude that was absolutely despicable. The villain cooked up a scheme to knock out homeless folks in Gotham and transport them to a remote gold mine, where he forced them into slave labor for his own profit. The poor miners would work in incredibly inhospitable conditions whereas Biggis would disgustingly stuff himself full of food while griping about their laziness. Bruce Wayne uncovered the scheme by posing as a homeless man and was rescued by Alfred to shut down the work camp.
Biggis wasn't just a lazy character, he was a lazy rogue. What's easier to hate on than a supremely mean guy that eats like a pig and enslaves homeless people? Due to his massive size, he could hardly fight and relied on a shotgun as he waddled around his gold mine while chasing the Bat. Biggis' mine was blown up by the hero and he was rightfully sent to jail. We're just happy he never returned for a second helping in the series.
What better to test the so-called World's Greatest Detective than an evil supercomputer? H.A.R.D.A.C. (short for "Holographic Analytical Reciprocating DigitAl Computer), was a super-smart artificial intelligence that sought to replace all human beings with robots to avoid the ails of humanity itself. The computer created droid copies of several humans such as Commissioner Gordon and Mayor Hill, which he labeled his "duplicants," and used them to kidnap the originals so he could learn from them.
H.A.R.D.A.C. did manage to get inside Batman's head by having him question whether people were really human or robots, but he wasn't much more than a crazy computer. His motivations for purging all people were thin at best, and he was predictably beaten by the resilience of humanity as a whole. While H.A.R.D.A.C. provided some good moments in questioning existence in all its glory, it was hard to take a stationary robot seriously. In the days of technology becoming ever present in our lives, H.A.R.D.A.C. just seems like an incredibly lackluster and somewhat murderous Siri.
5 Batman Duplicant
A remnant of H.A.R.D.A.C., the duplicant of Batman was so close to the original that he believed he was Bruce Wayne himself. The robot uncovered his origin and worked to re-establish the artificial intelligence to continue his plans to dominate the world through droids. Batman intervened, but actually found himself largely defeated by the duplicant and was nearly killed by it. Duplicant Batman, still influenced by his Bruce Wayne sense of morality, is horrified that he has taken a life and destroys himself and H.A.R.D.A.C.'s remnants in a fit of sorrowful rage.
While the duplicant actually bested Batman in combat, he was a silly concept that pulls a 180° on his "destroy all humans" schtick within five seconds at the end of the episode. He could have elicited great questions on artificial intelligence and the concept of souls, but the duplicant seemed more like an excuse to have Batman essentially fight the Terminator. Despite his fairly successful foray as a villain, the robot was thankfully decommissioned from the series permanently.
It was rare that Batman would have to fight another vigilante of sorts on the show, but that's exactly what Lock-Up was. Lyle Bolton was a guard at Arkham Asylum that was severely beating and otherwise torturing the inmates there. Bruce Wayne finds out and has Bolton fired immediately, to which the former guard takes major offense. Bolton dons the persona of Lock-Up and begins to kidnap the city officials he felt lacked the stones to punish the criminals properly in the first place. The Dynamic Duo manage to rescue the hostages and put Lock-Up behind bars at the prison he used to guard.
Bolton was predictably over-the-top and flew off the handle at those who disagreed with him. Along with his cringeworthy outfit, he used laughable tactics to fight Batman, at one point putting wheel clamps on the Batmobile to avoid being followed. Only a simple guard, he was nowhere near Batman's level in fighting prowess and only lasted as long as he did due to sheer luck. Lock-Up was supposed to be a look at the wrong ideas of vigilantism, but turned out more like a mall cop on a rampage.
3 Sewer King
If the Artful Dodger had been stuck in a sewer for most of his adult life, he would have been the Sewer King. Another character made just for the animated series, Sewer King was a crime lord that lived underground, recruiting orphans and runaways into his gang. The rogue used the children as pickpockets to accumulate his own wealth, while the kids continued to live in squalor and fear.
The idea of the orphans growing up under the tutelage of such a madman was an interesting one for Batman to encounter, but it just didn't match with a villain so inexplicably silly. Sewer King trilled with a put-on accent, dressed like something out of a Victorian-era penny dreadful and had trained attack alligators. He lacked any real fighting ability and relied on children to do his bidding since he was such a weak character. Sewer King seemed like something out of Batman's early comic issues, completely unworthy of the Caped Crusader's animated airtime.
2 Kyodai Ken
A former rival of Bruce Wayne during his days of training pre-Batman, Kyodai Ken was a martial artist that was banned from his school due to misusing his skills for crime. He struck out as a contracted hitman known as "The Ninja" before heading to Gotham to get revenge on his fellow pupil. Ken actually took shots at Bruce twice in the series, with the latter being his big showdown. He attempted to kill Bruce with a secret pressure point based blow, but the Dark Knight avoided it by wearing padding underneath his suit.
For a character that had such lethal prowess and differing origins from the more well-known villains, Kyodai Ken was fairly unremarkable. His backstory as a misfit in the wrong made him come off as whiny that Bruce did so much better than him. Even his big deathblow moment is ruined by Batman basically shoving a pillow underneath his shirt. Kyodai Ken had a lot of potential that was overshadowed by Bruce's reflections on his own past. For all his muster and supposedly cut-above martial arts skill, Kyodai was beaten and quickly forgotten within the realm of "Batman: the Animated Series."
Baby-Doll was a former actress that suffered a rare condition that kept her looking like a child indefinitely. She went through a depression after departing her hit show "Love That Baby!" since she couldn't net any more gigs afterwards. She realized that she was the happiest on the show and kidnaps all of the former cast members in order to enact revenge on the ones that stole the spotlight from her.
Baby-Doll wasn't just nightmare fuel in her own right, she was perhaps the silliest villain to be featured on the show. She was a hybrid blend of Clayface's backstory with "Chucky"-esque murderous tendencies. Baby-Doll can hardly fight, and when she does it's with ridiculous toys such as dolls with hidden guns or rattles full of sleep gas. Even Batman seemed put off by the fact that someone with the body of a small child was trying to threaten him. At her most dangerous, Baby-Doll was hardly a worthy rogue for the World's Greatest Detective. Maybe for Robin on a sick day, but certainly not Batman.
Have there been any other ridiculous Rogues Batman has faced off against who don't show up in this list? Be sure to let us know in the comments!