Characters / The Zeta Project

A list of characters from the DC Animated Universe animated series The Zeta Project, a spin-off of Batman Beyond.
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     Infiltration Unit Zeta 

Infiltration Unit Zeta

Voiced by: Gary Cole (Batman Beyond: "Zeta"), Diedrich Bader (The Zeta Project)
Appears in: Batman Beyond | The Zeta Project

"I decide who I want to be."

The main character. Zeta was designed by the government to be a spy and assassin robot, but developed a conscience after realizing his latest target was innocent. After going rogue, he becomes a fugitive hunted by the National Security Agency.
  • Actual Pacifist: Would only use force to save human life, and only when it was the only option available. He refused to use guns to any degree and though it's implied he was strong enough to kill people, he never did much more than knock them out, if that.
  • Affectionate Nickname: "Zee", by Ro.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Was programmed to be heartless, emotionless, and a hitman. He ends up becoming a sweet, gentle, loving soul who's a rare male version of Friend to All Living Things (although this is sort of the best possible scenario you can have when your A.I. goes awry). Turns out his creator secretly gave him a Morality Chip in defiance of government orders.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Zeta - Memories = Murderous Kill-Bot.
  • Badass Longcoat: He wears a long purple coat when using his hologram powers to disguise himself as a human.
  • Badass Pacifist: Despite being designed and programmed to be an assassin-bot, he refuses to carry weapons, or ever attack or harm a human being. He faces down an impressive number of foes, including those more than willing to use deadly force on him, his Action Girl companion, or bystanders, without ever once violating this (excluding the rare occasions where he is under the robot equivalent of Mind Control). This is the result of his character development in Batman Beyond, where he started out willing to use force against his enemies.
  • Characterization Marches On: In his debut appearance, he was The Stoic, a Deadpan Snarker, and only concerned about others if they were his responsibility. In subsequent appearances, he is kind akin to an innocent child.
  • Children Are Innocent: Though adult in appearance, he hasn't lived long enough to get jokes, slang, or innuendo, and seems to take people at their word most of the time. He's also a terrible judge of character due to believing the best of people. When he's shape-shifted into child form, even the other kids find him ultra-naive.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In his initial appearance in "Zeta".
    Max: Am I glad you're back. I couldn't live another second without your charming repartee.
    Zeta: I must remember to practice sarcasm.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Was programmed to be this way, but his A.I. eventually evolved into an actual personality and he decided he no longer wanted to continue killing and imitating his victims.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Or any kind of violence, really.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Even cockroaches. Ro was squicked; squick is a human concept Zeta didn't comprehend.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Trusts everyone inherently and believes everyone is good deep down. He also can't seem to gauge when people are lying to him, no matter how obvious it is.
  • I Am Not a Gun: Or in his words, he doesn't wish to destroy anymore. In addition, his statement that "I decide who I want to be" could count as this.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Anything that he says that sounds even remotely suggestive is this. He really, really doesn't get it. Special mention goes to kissing a complete stranger and not knowing why Ro was upset.
  • Leitmotif: In Batman Beyond, intimidating metal chimes play whenever he shows up or he's the center of a scene.
  • Literal-Minded / Sarcasm-Blind: Much to Ro's frustration. This is in spite of him understanding Max's sarcastic remarks to him back in Gotham, however, though Max could've been the one time he understood it, since he did say he wanted to practice it.
  • Naïve Everygirl: A male version.
  • Not Helping Your Case: He's accused of being re-programmed by a terrorist, and no matter what he does the FBI always make it out to be a crime. During most of the series, he was pursuing his creator so he can convince them that he's good, but his actions are taken as an assassination attempt when he accidentally set off the cryogenic chamber, almost killing him. The poor guy just can't win.
  • Love Redeems: The creator has admitted it comes across as ambiguously psuedo-romantic, but it was intended as platonic. It's more his love for the child of the man he's impersonating than the wife that makes him begin to change anyway.
  • Rule of Perception: Since The Zeta Project was made Lighter and Softer from Batman Beyond to appeal more to children, his head was changed to a humanoid version presumably because of this. This isn't explained in-universe, though it can be assumed that either it was retconned away or he got a hold of a new head after the events of "Zeta".
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Literally has no reason whatsoever to be as moral and kind as he is other than free will. His morality and heroism are self-enforced standards and as such he cannot be bought off, bribed or threatened.
  • The Stoic: When he originally appeared in Batman Beyond. Downplayed in subsequent appearances in favor of Children Are Innocent/Innocent Innuendo.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: "I was built as a weapon to destroy, but I will not destroy anymore."
  • Turned Against Their Masters: A peaceful example.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Naive and kind, always taking people at their word, a terrible of judge of character who thinks the best of everyone and generally easily manipulated. It's due to being so young and having no knowledge of the world beforehand, and to be fair, his friends do try to help him get better about this.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: In a crossover episode of Batman Beyond, Mad Stan puts a bomb on oblivious Zeta and sets him loose in Gotham.

     Rosalie "Ro" Rowan 

Rosalie "Ro" Rowan

Voiced by: Julie Nathanson

The co-protagonist. She's a teenage runaway who escaped from the foster system and befriends Zeta, helping him evade the NSA at every turn.

     Agent James Bennett 
Voiced by: Joe Spano (Batman Beyond: "Zeta"), Kurtwood Smith (The Zeta Project)

An NSA officer who leads the manhunt against Zeta.
  • Bystander Syndrome: His response to Batman's plea for help.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Depending on the Writer: Sometimes he's willing to let a known terrorist (Mad Stan from Batman Beyond) run around without diverting his considerable resources to stopping him and saving lives simply because it's not his problem. Other times he berates West for opening fire in a crowded place, seems genuinely concerned for those around him and goes out of his way to keep people safe. He also varies from being all business to somewhat friendly towards Lee.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Sometimes. See Depending on the Writer above for details.
    • He seems to dislike firing in public or on civilians. This cannot be said of all Agents.
  • Generation Xerox: His son is a visually identical but highly different personality-wise. Refreshingly, this isn't an issue.
  • Inspector Javert: Even though he begins to understand that Zeta isn't as dangerous as he seems. The back cover blurb on the DVD broaches the topic directly: "Just who is the real danger to humanity?"
  • Morality Pet: His wife and son.
  • Not Helping Your Case: When he tries to convince his superiors in season 2 he hasn't gone insane on this mission, the fact one of his own Agents left the NSA over his behavior is pointed out. He counters he hasn't had a bad call on his record other than Gotham, which is not a good incident to bring up since he nearly got part of the city blown up during that incident. Agent West facepalms audibly in the background.
  • Parents as People: He's an absentee parent, but only because his job's pay is directly in proportion to how many assignments he takes. He and his son have issues about this and resolve it as best they can. His Sanity Slippage actually regresses when he's allowed some normal family time.
  • Perpetual Frowner: The only time he smiles in the series is at his son.
  • Papa Wolf: He loves his son. His son is why he takes work so seriously. Therefore his son comes before work and he will pull an Enemy Mine to keep his son safe.
  • Sanity Slippage: Over the course of the series, he begins becoming more confrontational, emotional and callous, leading to more questionable actions. Highlighted by the Mad Stan incident.
  • The Stoic
    • Not So Stoic: He begins to grow increasingly frustrated as the series goes on.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: How he views West and some of the NSA, though not Agents Lee or Rush.

     Agent Orin West 

A bumbling NSA agent who keeps accidentally hindering his team's efforts at catching Zeta.

     Agent Marcia Lee 
Voiced by: Lauren Tom

West's more competent and level-headed female partner.
  • Action Girl: In contrast to her wimpy partner, Lee was able to hold off a mercenary with her hands tied together.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Averted. Her fighting style is identical to every other Agent we see in the series. Agent Rush actually has the most kungfu-esque moves out of all the Agents, and she's black.
  • Artistic Age
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: With West. As much as she mocks him, she fights fiercely to rescue him twice in season one alone.
    Agent Lee: I gotta go save my partner.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Developed into this after Zeta saved her life at great personal risk to himself. Unfortunately, she's not in as much power as most examples, so actually helping him out is hard.
  • Dark Action Girl: Before her Heel–Face Turn
  • Deadpan Snarker: Usually involving West.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The she's Chinese, a woman, and not trained in a stereotypical branch of Hollywood kung fu. Positive Discrimination may be at work as she's the Only Sane Man.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Gradually comes to realize Zeta isn't evil. This leads to her turning Bennett in during the second season after his Sanity Slippage becomes too extreme.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Frequently.
  • Last-Name Basis: It's apparently just Lee, even to her friends.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Goes back and forth: initially she gets this when trying to explain Zeta isn't evil, but she tries that exactly once and then turn to the much more provable and equally true objection to her superiors that Bennett is becoming unstable. When she feels it isn't taken seriously, she quits, an act extreme enough to prompt investigation into Bennett's behavior. But she can't get Zeta's case heard afterwards when she's viewed as a Mood-Swinger who turned on her boss, and any response she has damages her case.
  • Odd Friendship: Goofy, cocky West and calm, snarky Lee.
  • Only Sane Woman: In the NSA.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Which frequently brings her into conflict with Bennett. Eventually, she seeks reassignment due to her belief that Zeta is not a threat to anyone.
  • Vague Age: As per usual with the NSA Agents, we have no clue how old she is.

    Agent Rush 
Voiced by: Erika Alexander, later Dominique Jennings
Appearances: The Zeta Project

West's new female partner after Lee gets transferred out of the Zeta taskforce.

     Bucky Buenaventura 
Voiced by: Ulysses Cuadra (Season 1), Blayn Barbosa (Season 2)
Appearances: The Zeta Project

A teenage boy genius and inventor. Initially an evil little brat who tried to hack Zeta for revenge against a lab partner. Though he later becomes an ally of Zeta and Ro.

     Dr. Eli Selig 
Voiced by: George Segal, later Hal Linden
Appearances: The Zeta Project

The elusive scientist who was in charge of the project that created Zeta and other Infiltration Units. Zeta is trying to find him in hopes of clearing his name.

Alternative Title(s): DCAU The Zeta Project