Follow TV Tropes

Following

Characters / Batman: The Scarecrow
aka: The Scarecrow

Go To

The Scarecrow

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/batman_scarecrow_tales.jpg
The Master of Fear. The Lord of Despair. Cower before him in witless terror.
Click here to see his "Classic" design
Click here to see his The New 52 design
Click here to see his Rebirth design
Click here to see his The New Frontier design
Click here to see him as a civilian
Click here to see him as a Scarebeast
Click here to see him as a Yellow Lantern

Alter Ego: Jonathan Crane, Scarebeast

Species: Human

Team Affiliations: Legion of Doom, Sinestro Corps

First appearance: Worlds Finest 1941 #3 (August, 1941)

"Fear is primal. Raw. Blood pressure increases. Veins in your skin contract. Your immune system shuts down. Even if you attempt to steel against fear, ... it is undeniable. Fear makes us human. That was the conclusion of Charles Darwin. Who am I to argue? I'm a man of science, too. A psychologist. But few know my academic achievements. If you know me at all, you know me as ... the Scarecrow!"

Constantly mocked and bullied as a child, Jonathan Crane developed an interest in fear and its effects on the mind. Eventually becoming either a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum or a Psychology Professor at Gotham State University, Dr. Crane's career came to an end when his obsession with instilling fear in others resulted in his performing dangerous experiments on patients. Adopting a scarecrow motif, Crane turned to crime to fund his research, becoming one of the Dark Knight's most unnerving foes.

Much like Mr. Freeze, and to some extent, The Riddler, the Scarecrow was a one-shot character in the comics, revived decades later to become a major part of Batman's Rogues Gallery. Thin and bookish, he was (predictably) bullied by kids at school. As a result, he became even more withdrawn and angry at the world, culminating in him pulling a prank of his own during the high school senior prom and attacking Jerk Jock Bo Griggs and his Alpha Bitch girlfriend Sherry Squires (who had rejected Crane's affections), killing the latter.

A psychologist who seemed more interested in studying the fears of patients than in curing them, Crane eventually developed a chemical toxin that when converted into a gas or injected into a victim, creates powerful hallucinations that have its subjects experience their greatest fears. Prolonged exposure to Scarecrow's gas often does drive his victims into madness, and in some cases, death.

Not to be confused with the Marvel Comics Alternate Company Equivalent villain The Scarecrow, real name Ebenezer Laughton.


    open/close all folders 

Scarecrow Provides Examples Of:

    A-F 
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: For years writers liked to have Crane be Hoist by His Own Petard by being exposed to his own fear toxin. But over time, he has been exposed to his fear toxin so many times that he became immune to its effects. Sometimes he's even shown to have been rendered incapable of feeling fear.
    The Scarecrow: I want to feel the terror, but I'm immune to it, you see. I used my fear gas, oh, one too many times. I scare people, but nothing can scare me. Nothing... nothing but the Batman.
  • Abusive Parents: His great-grandmother who raised him was very abusive, emotionally and physically. In the New 52, he was subject to similar experiments he uses on others when he was a child by his father, and kept in a basement filled with crows when not.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Crane usually has a rather unattractive appearance, that of a skinny and lanky man who's always unkempt. But rarely, Depending on the Artist he may be draw as much more attractive:
    • In Year One: Batman/Scarecrow, Crane looks nothing like his previous portrayals. While tall and thin, he doesn't have the same gangly awkwardness as he is usually given and comes across looking more like David Tennant than Ichabod Crane.
    • In Blackest Night when drawn by Ivan Reis, without the mask Crane doesn't look anything like how artists usually portray him.
  • A God Am I: Alan Grant's "God of Fear" mini-arc (which took place shortly after Azrael had taken over as Batman in Knightfall) portrays him with this personality. A student of all the world's mythologies, Dr. Jonathan Crane becomes annoyed that there is no historical record of a god of fear, even though that should be the most obvious god because fear is what sustains the gods. Determined to halt the modern world's "flight from religion," he kidnaps several students from the psychology department at the university where he once taught, drugs them until they are stripped of their will, dresses them in scarecrow costumes, gives them plastic skulls containing fear toxin and has them use them to spread chaos throughout various parts of Gotham City, creates an enormous hologram of himself that he projects against the sky to make himself look like a god, and orders the Gothamites to officially recognize him as a god or he will destroy the entire city with an entire tanker truck full of his toxin (when in fact he plans to empty the tanker into the city water supply, thus poisoning everyone who uses tap water). While negotiating with him on the phone, Commissioner Gordon tries to get the Scarecrow to see how insane he is acting, pointing out that he is a human being and that, even if Gotham City did declare him a god, he still wouldn't be one. This only enrages the Scarecrow, who, working from completely backward logic, says that as a god he is incorruptible, and therefore can't possibly be insane. (That's right: The Scarecrow is so insane, he doesn't even know he's insane.)
  • Animal Motifs: Despite often having a fear of them, he is often associated with crows. Or in the case of the Arkham games, beetles.
  • Appropriated Appelation: 'Scarecrow' was a mocking nickname given to Crane by his colleagues at the university. When he turned to crime, he adopted it as his alias, swearing he would make it a name people would fear.
  • Artistic License – Religion: In the "God of Fear" story Scarecrow claims there is no such thing as a god of fear to be found in any mythology. This is simply false. To take just Greek mythology as an example, they had two gods of fear: Phobos (from which the word "phobia" is derived) was the god of imminent, panicked fear, and his twin brother Deimos was the god of the kind of fear that is the dread of things to come.
  • Badass Bookworm: A former Psychiatrist and college professor, who regularly faces Batman and threatens the entire city. His original appearance saw him be able to physically overpower Batman repeatedly when he was just a scrawny college professor with no combat training or his fear toxin.
  • Badass Normal: He doesn't have any superpowers, relying on his genius intellect and fear toxin for most of his plots. If forced to fight, he's actually learned how to be a decent martial artist, having trained himself in a kung fu fighting style that he calls "violent dancing", which makes use of his long limbs. He did briefly become an Empowered Badass Normal a few times, when he became Scarebeast, Schrocken and even a yellow lantern.
  • Bad Boss: He hardly cares about terrorizing his own henchmen, and sometimes even keeps them Brainwashed and Crazy to better serve him.
  • Bastard Bastard: At least in the pre-New 52 continuity where he was born in a brief high school fling that led to Parental Abandonment and him ending up raised by his abusive great-grandmother. This ended up being a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy on his great-grandmother's part though due to her fanatical Christian beliefs constantly reminding him of how he was born in sin.
  • Big Bad:
  • Birds of a Feather: During the Blackest Night, Scarecrow was temporarily deputized into the Sinestro Corps, a Green Lantern villain organization that also weaponizes the use of fear.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Depending on the Writer, his fear toxin combined with his psychological expertise has him putting people under his thrall. This is mostly a Plot Device so writers can give him minions or have an excuse to have the heroes go evil for a bit.
    • In Gothtopia, The Scarecrow has all of Gotham in a gas-induced hallucination, making them think everything is wonderful while attacking anyone who thinks otherwise. This includes the heroes; they eventually break free of the hallucinations and try to figure out what's going on.
    • Crane accidentally caused this to happen against Jean-Paul / Azrael. When Jean-Paul took over for Bruce Wayne during the events of Knightfall, his first supervillain encounter just so happened to be against Scarecrow. When Jean-Paul got nailed by Crane's Fear Toxin-coated barbs, the System (a deep brainwashing program used by the Order of St. Dumas for those chosen to be their Avenging Angel) kicked in to get him through it... and never shut off. This sent Jean-Paul over the edge as time passed, leading to him getting more and more brutal with his enemies, nearly killing Robin when he tried to stop him and culminating in the death of Abattoir and Bruce Wayne needing to come back in order to fix things.
    • In Superman/Batman issue #77, Scarecrow's fear toxin makes Kara believe that Robin is her parents' killer Reactron, so she fights him.
  • Break Them by Talking: A incredibly skilled Psycho Psychologist, Crane is a walking encyclopedia and knows everything there is to know about fear, phobias and anxiety disorders, and uses this insight to find people's mental pressure points and exploit them, sometimes even being capable of causing them to become Brainwashed and Crazy. And while often uses his fear toxin to help with the process, he's not entirely dependent on it, having once managed to drive two men to suicide using nothing but words.
  • Bully Magnet: He's often presented as one in many versions of his Start of Darkness backstory, due to being a shy lanky bookworm (and in the case of the Year One: Batman/Scarecrow continuity, being a literal bastard in the Bible Belt doesn't help). In one post-Crisis version of his origins, he snaps after one Prank Date and more or less snaps and sets his path on becoming The Scarecrow from there by killing/crippling two of his worst tormentors a la Carrie. Frankly, it'd be weirder if he didn't become a supervillain from all the constant abuse from his peers. Even as an adult this didn't stop, during his time working at Gotham university, he was often ridiculed by his peers due to his unkempt appearance and clothing. His supervillain peers also mostly seem to hate him, and he was often bullied and abused by The Penguin during the time he worked under him.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Crane's initial backstory was that he was mocked and bullied by his peers because he looked like a scarecrow, culminating in his first act of violence being a case of Who's Laughing Now? when he scared two of his tormentors so bad one died in a car crash and the other was crippled for life. Year One: Batman/Scarecrow added that Crane was raised by a sadistic great-grandmother, snatched from his teenage mother's arms the moment he was born. Great-Grandmother Keeny made him work on their dying plantation's crops while regularly punishing him via locking him in an abandoned aviary as prey for the birds. It later turned out she was the inspiration he received for his work in chemistry, as the reason the birds always attacked him was that she would soak his clothes in rat's blood mixed with a blend of chemicals meant to drive the birds crazy. Crane's first act of violence was now doing to her what she was doing to him as a matter of survival. Batman and Robin found her bones buried in the aviary years later. This backstory seemed to have stuck before the Flashpoint reboot, since Crane's birth mother was featured in a standalone story, feeling guilty for how her son turned out and attempting to kill herself before she was convinced otherwise by Deadman.
  • Characterisation Marches On: In his Golden Age appearances he didn't use fear gas, but was simply an extortionist who frightened people with mundane things like guns.
  • Contortionist: Depending on the Writer, Crane has used his skinny and lanky build to his advantage and learned how to move and twist his body in extreme ways, for example, being able to twist his body in such a way that he can escape for Arkham's straight jackets.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: During Aquaman's time as the defender of Sub Diego, he had to deal with a serial killer in the underwater city. With limited access to experienced detectives, Aquaman decided to consult Crane for his insight into the killer, with Crane offering useful advice that helped Aquaman determine the killer's motive and identity.
  • Costume Evolution: A very interesting one at that. From his first appearance in the 40's to the '90s, he pretty much just dressed like a walking scarecrow, which isn't all that scary in certain contexts. After The New Batman Adventures completely reinvented his look, anything goes be it the burlap sack look in The Dark Knight trilogy, the mask sewn onto his face in the Arkham games, or whatever the hell one would call his Injustice 2 design.
  • Crack is Cheaper: In-Universe this is the origin of Crane's Appropriated Appellation. Crane spent all of his money on buying books, so he was always very shabbily dressed. As a result, his university colleagues nicknamed him 'Scarecrow'. When he turned to crime, he adopted this as his alias.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: His piercing, eerie blue eyes are often all that's visible of him under his scarecrow costumes.
  • Creepy Monotone: The most common portrayal of his manner of speaking is with a slow and creepy monotone voice.
  • Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Being a former psychologist with a knack for toying with people's minds, he's been shown doing this from time to time when stuck in Arkham; most notably in his patient interviews in Batman: Arkham Asylum.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In one comic, where Batman was relating to one of the Robins all of the death traps that he has foiled, Batman mentions a Haunted House of Death that Scarecrow created to try and kill Batman. Robin states that Scarecrow would have made a fortune in the entertainment industry, making haunted houses for theme parks. Batman actually states that he recommended that to the Scarecrow after capturing him, but, Scarecrow being Scarecrow, he didn't listen. More generally, the Scarecrow could probably have named his own price for selling his fear toxins to spy agencies like the CIA or MI6, or to political dictators. Instead, he prefers to pursue his own research using the people of Gotham as his unwilling guinea pigs.
  • Deadly Doctor: Doctor Jonathan Crane used to be a clinical psychiatrist (often the head psychiatrist at Arkham) before he became The Scarecrow and he is skilled in psychology, chemistry, and psychopharmacology and often uses this knowledge in his supervillainy, and wielding medical equipment such as needles and syringes. He also has a knack of treating some of his victims as if they were his "patients".
  • Deadly Scratch: He often only needs to deal a single scratch to his victims to inject them with his fear toxin when they're in liquid form. Even in its gaseous form, contact with the skin is all it takes for the fear toxin to begin to affect someone.
  • Death by Adaptation: His mother Karen Keeny was alive and well in the post-Crisis continuity, but became a victim of Death by Origin Story in the New 52 reboot.
  • Death Seeker: A variation: in addition to being obsessed with making other people feel terror, Crane himself is addicted to fear. Over time, though, exposure to his fear gas, plus constantly analyzing the phobias of others, have gradually deadened his ability to be afraid. He eventually reaches a point where even the Emotion Eater Black Lanterns ignore him because he's become so frigid. Crane eventually realizes that the only person who makes him afraid anymore is Batman, and thus actively seeks out confrontations with the Caped Crusader—which are almost inevitably hopelessly one-sided—just so he can get a "fix" of terror.
  • Depending on the Artist: Unlike Joker, Two-Face, or Penguin, there's no consistent Scarecrow costume. Crane's gone through several different looks with various clothes, masks, color schemes, hats (or lack thereof), and degrees of resemblance to an actual scarecrow. Some designs, like the The Dark Knight Trilogy, just use the sack mask on top of regular clothing. Though In-Universe it's just a case of Crane trying new looks and reinventing himself.
  • Disappeared Dad: In the post-Crisis continuity story Year One: Batman/Scarecrow, his father Gerald Crane was a Glorified Sperm Donor who didn't care to raise Jonathan since he was conceived in a Teen Pregnancy. When Jonathan finally tracks down and meets his father, it's to try to kill him as Revenge, but was stopped by Batman.
  • The Dragon: He worked as Hush's junior partner in crime in Batman: Heart of Hush.
  • The Dreaded: He's probably the most feared criminal in all of Gotham save for The Joker, and with good reason as he's a Supernatural Fear Inducer who dedicated his life to understanding and causing fear and panic. In fact, during the events of Blackest Night, he was deputized into the Sinestro Corps, which proves him to be one of the scariest entities in his entire space sector!note 
  • Emotion Suppression: Depending on the Writer, extended exposure to his own fear toxin and research into fear has rendered him almost incapable of feeling fear, or sometimes even any emotion at all, causing him to act like a creepy version of The Stoic.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
    • Horrifically subverted in The Long Halloween, where it's revealed that he killed his mother—on Mother's Day, no less. Later stories would instead make his great-grandmother the target of his murderous revenge.
    • In Year One: Batman/Scarecrow, he tries to kill his mother, Karen, due to blaming her for his abusive upbringing (even though she had no choice in giving him up and didn't know he was even alive until years later).
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The Scarecrow started as basically any other themed Batman villain, not even being a particularly popular one. His main gimmick, the fear toxin didn't even make an appearance until twenty-six years after his first appearances. The way he terrorized his victims? The old-fashioned way: with guns and death threats.
  • Evil Mentor:
    • Eventually revealed to be one to an Evil Student, Thomas Elliot aka Hush.
    • He also tortured his student Abigail O'Shay causing her to become Madame Crow and join The Victim Syndicate.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The mask sometimes enhances his voice, and those exposed to his fear toxin generally hear the Voice of the Legion.
  • Face Your Fears: One whiff of his fear toxin and you can expect anyone with enough willpower (namely, Batman himself) to have to do this. It's been a theme whenever the two face off in the comics. Crane himself does it whenever he goes after Batman, who Crane admits is his greatest fear, which is partially why he faces the Dark Knight so often.
  • Fired Teacher: The main thread all of the versions of his origin share is that he used to be a university professor that got fired for his harsh and bizarre teaching methods (the original story had him dismissed for firing a revolver in class). Naturally, he later hunts down the people responsible for his dismissal.
  • For Science!: When writers decide to go for the Mad Doctor / Mad Scientist interpretation. Other times, he seems to just spray people with fear toxin For the Evulz.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: He is sometimes depicted with glasses albeit it's largely Depending on the Artist.
  • Freudian Excuse: Scarecrow gets an abusive great-grandmother and maternal abandonment, as well as vicious school bullying.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: In Batman New Year's Evil, when Crane attempts to convince one Becky Albright, that his status as a supervillain is justified due to his tragic past, but she doesn't buy it.
    The Scarecrow: But I'm offering you the chance to see the fear in their eyes! I have spent enough time in Arkham Asylum to know the symptoms, Becky. You have the classic psychological profile to be one of us!
    Becky Albright: You're crazy. That's not the way to deal with it. That's not the way I'm going to deal with it!
    The Scarecrow: I am not crazy! This is a perfectly sane and rational response to my traumatic experiences. And if you don't believe me... I'll Kill You!
    Becky Albright: Then... You'll have to kill me.

    G-L 
  • Geek Physiques: One of Batman's more cerebral enemies, with his only consistent (and most notable) physical trait being how incredibly lanky and skinny he is, much like an actual scarecrow is.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In his Year One: Batman/Scarecrow iteration, he tries to kill his toddler half sister out of spite that she was able to be raised properly by their mother.
  • Gruesome Grandparent: His great-grandmother was an abusive fundamentalist who would beat him for even minor disobedience, and when in a real bad mood set crows on him. His grandmother wasn't much better, as she was fine with simply burying Jonathan behind the house and acting like he never existed. They both ripped him out of his mother's arms as soon as he was born and threw her out.
  • Harmful to Minors: Though they sometimes accidentally invoke his sympathy, he is not above using young children in the testing or construction of his fear toxins
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: He gets gassed with his own toxin in several arcs, including in adaptations as well.
  • Hulking Out: After being turned into the monstrous Scarebeast by The Penguin and Fright, he reverted back into human upon his first defeat, but could involuntarily transform back into the Scarebeast form if he even felt great rage or was in great danger. He also does not seem to retain any memory of these interludes.
  • I Know What You Fear: His gimmick. Crane is a Psycho Psychologist who is an expert in the field of fear, phobias and anxiety disorders and he often demonstrates his prowess by quickly analyzing people and figuring out what type of things they fear, so he may take advantage of them. And if he can, he can just cheat and use his fear toxin, which leaves people in a state of terror that often reveals their greatest phobias.
  • Idiosyncrazy: Zigzagged, as his crimes tend to be split about 50/50 between "using fear gas and other means to terrorize others to ostensibly continue studying fear" and "steal the funds to be able to make more fear gas".
  • Infant Sibling Jealousy: A dark example in the two-shot Year One: Batman/Scarecrow; Crane, who in this continuity was taken from his teen mom's arms at birth and raised by his fanatically religious and abusive grandmother, tracks down his birth mother and discovers she married and had a baby girl... he doesn't take it very well, as one would expect from someone with abandonment issues. Thankfully Batman manages to save the girl before Crane can do her any harm.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: His transformations into the monstrous forms of Scarebeast and later Schrocken were both forced on him by other villains (Scarebeast by Penguin and Fright, Schrocken by Darkseid and DeSaad) and he had little control on triggering the transformation, or his actions when he was transformed.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: When written by Jeph Loeb (such as in Batman: Hush), he tends to sing bird-related nursery rhymes.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: During the "As the Crow Flies" story arc, he worked under The Penguin who secretly had Crane's assistant Fright use Crane's own DNA research to turn Crane into a murderous creature known as the Scarebeast. In this form, the Scarebeast possessed Super-Strength and Super-Toughness, easily beating Batman and could even release a stronger hallucinogenic gas. After being defeated by Batman, the Scarebeast reverted back into his human form, although it's later revealed he retained the ability to transform in case he felt great rage or pain. He also did not seem to retain any memory of what he did as Scarebeast, acting simply as berserker monster.
  • Lean and Mean: Scarecrow has an extremely slender and lanky build. Ironically, his bullies tended to nickname him The scarecrow for it, and Crane decided to adopt it as his supervillain name when he decided to become a psychotic killer.
    The Scarecrow: In the story of my life, the scrawny Scarecrow will win in the end - and the last laugh, I swear, will be mine!!

    M-R 
  • Mad Doctor: Of the "Mad Psychiatry" type. Scarecrow likes to experiment on people with the sole aim of learning what they fear most, so he can better understand how fear works.
  • Mad Scientist: Well, not quite a scientist, but the gist of this trope.
  • Master of Illusion: Downplayed. While he can infect people with hallucination-inducing gas, he rarely has much control over the specifics of what they hallucinate.
  • Master Poisoner: Crane has enough chemistry skills to be able to concoct his fear toxins, which doesn't work as poisons for the body, but for the mind, working as Supernatural Fear Inducer that give his targets nightmarish hallucinations.
  • Matricide: In The Long Halloween, he killed his mother on Mother's Day.
  • Meaningful Name: He's possibly named after Ichabod Crane.
  • Mind Rape: His shtick. He uses his fear gas/toxin to make his victims experience their worst fears.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: In most continuities, he is a legitimate psychological therapist. You'd have to be out of your mind to seek him for treatment now, of course.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: One storyline saw him recruited as an ally by Hugo Strange early in Batman's career, only for Crane to unintentionally ruin Strange's plan. Thanks to the other psychiatrist's "therapy", Crane overcame his fear of Batman, left Strange in an apparently fatal trap, and then tried to use Strange's plan against Batman for himself. Unfortunately for Crane, since he lacked the necessary context to understand Strange's full plan, his own efforts were far more amateur; as an example, Strange's plan involved luring Batman to Crime Alley, but since his notes didn't provide any context for why that alley was significant to the Dark Knight Crane's own plan boils down to decapitating a man Batman has never met (an old classmate of Crane's) and then trying to attack his foe from behind.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Almost literally, as his fascination with fear reaches disturbing proportions, and he may seek out conflict with Batman just to feel afraid.
  • Nightmare Weaver: Some versions of his fear toxin have people experience their worst nightmares and fears, even if Crane is unaware of them.
  • Non-Action Guy: Depending on the Writer, he doesn't have any fighting skills and mostly relies on his wits and fear toxin to keep Batman and other heroes at bay.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: During Fear State, he claims that he is trying to help Gotham by pushing it into fear and beyond to something greater, but he is really just driving the city into terror.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Subverted, a great deal of his crimes are just for him to acquire the funds to continue his fear research, which is actually rather expensive, and due to him being too insane to work a real job, he resorts to crime.
  • One Dose Fits All: His fear gas/toxin rarely ever takes dosage into account, having the same effect on people of varying physiologies or who inhale vastly different quantities of it.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • In the "As the Crow Flies" story arc, The Penguin and Crane's assistant Fright arranged for Crane to be unwillingly transformed into a creature known as the Scarebeast. In this form, he had Super-Strength and endurance, as well as the ability to naturally produce and release a form of fear toxin that was stronger than his usual fear toxin. Although he eventually reverted to his normal form, he retained the ability to transform into Scarebeast during times of great stress and frustration.
    • Later on in Superman/Batman, Darkseid and DeSaad also captured and experimented on him, turning him into a creature called the Schrocken, and said form was strong enough that it could take on Superman in a fight. He was eventually rescued by Batman and Superman and returned back to normal, this time also losing the Scarebeast transformation powers.
  • The Paranoiac: He was violently bullied in his youth and was left with a crippling inferiority complex that developed into an obsession with fear and a career in super-villainy, his "gimmick" is to scare people to death with hallucinogens and drugs. Like most Batman villains he is prone to Bad Boss behavior and violent overreactions. He also believes that the entire world runs on fear; hard to get a bleaker worldview than that.
  • Parental Abandonment: In the post-Crisis continuity, due to being a child conceived in a Teen Pregnancy. His father didn't care enough to do anything, while his mother was kicked out of the house and had Jonathan taken from her by her mother and grandmother. When he grew up and became a supervillain, he sought out to kill both in Revenge, blaming his tormented childhood on them.
  • Patricide: His Year One: Batman/Scarecrow iteration tries to kill his father, Gerald Crane. Although he doesn't succeed at this.
  • Pet the Dog: He has had these moments especially with students that he either finds very smart like Molly Randall who was raped by her boyfriend or has problems with bullies.
  • Pheromones: He uses these for his Supernatural Fear Inducer, the fear gas/toxin. Sometimes he calls it his 'Fearomone gas'.
  • Poison Is Evil: He uses a variety of chemical toxins that cause fear and otherwise alter emotions.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Depending on the Writer, he tries hard to stick to this, as his motivations are largely economical (there's no way that he'd ever get grant money for his research, so he has to commit crimes to get the money he needs to fund it), but he depends on Batman to validate his existence way more than he'd like to admit.
  • Psycho Psychologist: His oldest and most established backstory is that he's a psychologist, specializing in phobias, who eventually became so obsessed with fear that he went insane and began conducting extreme experiments in inducing fear in others.
  • Raised by Grandparents: In his post-Crisis backstory, due to being conceived in a Teen Pregnancy, both of his parents didn't want to raise him so he ended up being raised by his great-grandmother. She was not a pleasant woman, with Crane described that she "maintained" him more than she raised him, doing the bare minimum to keep him alive, and often abusing him emotionally and physically.
  • Relative Button: Playing on the natural, instinctive fear in people by threatening their relatives is not above him, and is one of the way he can instill fear and panic into people. Notably, this did backfire on him during the Knightfall Saga, when he sprayed Batman with one of his fear toxins and forces him to relive the memory of the Joker killing Jason Todd. Batman, who has already run himself ragged capturing many other criminals that night, responds by going into Unstoppable Rage, knocking out the Scarecrow with a single headbutt and beating the Joker (who's partnered up with Scarecrow) within an inch of his life, calling Jason's name all the while.
  • Ret-Canon: His New Frontier design incorporates his syringe gloves from Batman: Arkham Asylum.
  • Revenge of the Nerd: Took this to a murderous extreme on his bullies and the people who pulled a Prank Date on him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The plot of Year One: Batman/Scarecrow has him going after the people who have wronged him in the past for revenge, such as his parents and his old university mentor.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Has been a Green Lantern villain a couple of times, mostly due to his fear expertise making him an ally to the Sinestro Corps. He was even given a yellow power ring during the events of Blackest Night.

    S-Z 
  • Sadist: How much is a case of Depending on the Writer, but all versions of Crane have some kind of sadism in them. One doesn't devote himself to causing fear so wholeheartedly as he without enjoying the terror he brings.
  • Sadist Teacher: Okay, so most of the time, the "sadist" and "teacher" parts don't appear together much, but there was that time when he fired a gun in the middle of one of his classes to inspire fear in his students. It's usually the incident that gets him fired.
  • Scary Scarecrows: His entire reason for dressing up as a scarecrow is because of the symbolism; after all, a scarecrow's purpose is to scare, and scaring is Crane's Goal in Life.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: When not wearing his mask, he tends to have these and they usually shine eerily when he's being particularly creepy or sinister.
  • Scary Stitches: Most of his outfits feature these, to go with the Scary Scarecrows theme.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax:. While he rarely pretends to be supernatural, he still always dresses as a demonic scarecrow and uses hallucinogenic gases to create illusionary horrors.
  • Self-Made Orphan:
    • According to The Long Halloween, he killed his mom. On Mother's Day.
    • In Year One: Batman/Scarecrow, he was shown to have killed his grandmother and great-grandmother. He would have killed his mother and father as well if Batman and Robin didn't stop him.
  • Shadow Archetype: Like Batman, he uses fear as a The Gimmick in his actions, except Crane uses fear for malicious purposes. Batman himself is very aware of this
    Batman: He calls himself "Scarecrow." Psychologist turned psychopath. He preys on the innocent and instills them with fear. When I chose to wear my... costume, it was to prey upon the criminals, and instill them with fear. The irony is not lost on me.
  • Sibling Murder: In Year One: Batman/Scarecrow, he was going to shoot his maternal half-sister, who was only a toddler.
  • Sinister Scythe: Depending on the issue, he may wield a scythe as his preferred weapons, although pitchforks are somewhat more common. Both go hand in hand with his Scary Scarecrows theme.
  • Smug Snake: He has a high opinion of himself and tends to acts especially arrogant whenever he seemingly has the upper hand, which leads to him making mistakes or underestimating his enemies.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Adaptations often give him a Creepy Monotone voice to combine with his sadistic and terrifying speeches.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Scarecrow.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: Has the Verbal Tic to speak nursery rhymes, when written by Jeph Loeb, most famously in The Long Halloween.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Whenever he's portrayed as The Stoic, he's got glasses to invoke this image as well as for the Four Eyes, Zero Soul vibe. He usually gets a lot of quiet moments with Scary Shiny Glasses to make him look sinister.
  • Superhero Sobriquets: The Master of Fear.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Scarecrow uses his fear gas/toxin to cause hallucinations, paranoia, and even full-on panic-induced heart attacks in his victims. Sometimes this overlaps with I Know What You Fear, while other times it's just straight-up irrational terror.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: He dresses up as a scarecrow in order to invoke this, and people under the effect of his fear toxin usually see him as one.
  • Unwitting Pawn: To The Penguin and Fright during the "As the Crow Flies" story arc, as he thought he was working for Penguin in order to create a formula to keep Penguin's man scared and loyal, but in actuality, Penguin had ordered Fright to take advantage of Crane's DNA research to turn him into the Scarebeast monster just so he would murder Penguin's enemies for him without Penguin taking the blame.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: His younger self is often depicted as a shy young lad that kept to himself reading books which unfortunately that combined with his stature made him a target for bullies, particularly in the Year One: Batman/Scarecrow origins and the New 52.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: In the epilogue of Fear State, this is part of Batman's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Scarecrow, points out that the rest of the Rogues Gallery either doubled down and improved their gimmicks or that they realized they're in over their heads, gave up and changed for the better. Scarecrow, on the other hand, keeps doing the same fear shtick over and over again.note 
    Batman: I don't know what tomorrow looks like, but that doesn't scare me. Not anymore. […] But it does scare you, doesn't it? It terrifies you. Some other villains have built new lives for themselves and moved on from villainy. Some of them doubled down and changed their methods. But you have never changed, and now you tried the biggest attack you ever dared on the city and failed. What more could you do? The same again but bigger? You were so afraid of change that you tried to take control of everyone's future. Push them through the fear state. Make them evolve. I've been shaped by fear and trauma and it has changed me many times… You have pushed yourself to the limits of fear, and you have never changed, never evolved.
  • Villainous Friendship: He's been known to hang around fellow villain the Mad Hatter/Jervis Tetch from time to time.
  • Villainous Crush: Had one on Becky Albright, a witness who testified against him. Unsurprisingly, making a move on a woman he'd recently dosed with fear gas did not go well.
  • Villainous Underdog: Compared to the rich and resourceful Batman, Crane is just an extremely poor guy who mostly commits crimes to fund his research. But the fact his research is about how to best instill fear in people and that the other half of his crimes is to do horrible experiments on innocent people, he's not exactly a sympathetic figure.
  • Villainous Valour: The Scarecrow's own phobia is the constant fear of Batman himself. That's right: the one and only thing in the world he himself fears is the thing he is most constantly willfully opposing, and someone whom he frequently seeks out and starts the fight with of his own accord. Although it may not so much be valor as a sort of emotional masochism... He craves fear.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Often invokes this, with his voice ranging from a Creepy High-Pitched Voice to Evil Sounds Deep. Sometimes it's due to his mask, sometimes his fear toxin just makes him sound like that to his victims.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He is often depicted with either a fear of birds (specifically crows) or a fear of bats (after meeting Batman). In Blackest Night, it's revealed his constant exposure to his fear toxin has left him incapable of fearing anything. Except for Batman.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Crane's a scrawny man, and while somewhat stronger than he looks (he's often depicted as being able to support his entire body with his arms spread out for a reasonable period, allowing him to hang himself like an actual Scarecrow) he is constantly depicted as having low durability and not being hard to overpower. However years of practice in his own personal created style of combat to fit with his body (which he dubs "Violent dancing"- a cross between Crane style Kung Fu and Drunken Boxing) has left him able to trade blows with the likes of Batman, sometimes.
  • Wolverine Claws: Has taken to using a mix of this and Playing with Syringes in the New 52.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Victim of a Prank Date, bullying throughout his school years, absentee parents and an abusive great-grandmother with trained crows to attack him for the slightest mistake, no wonder the poor kid became obsessed with fear. This went From Bad to Worse in Blackest Night. Due to being exposed to too much of his fear toxin, he can't even feel fear, or nearly any other emotion anymore, except when facing Batman. Yeah, it means the Black Lanterns don't consider him a priority target and he brought it upon himself, but it's still a raw deal. By the New 52, however, he seems to have overcome or had never had this problem, as his toxins have become so powerful they even affect him again.
  • Would Hurt a Child: While he generally tries to avoid hurting children, in some depictions he is willing to cruelly experiment on them, and in Year One: Batman/Scarecrow, he is willing to kill his toddler half sister, due to spite she got to be raised by the mother who abandoned him.


Alternative Title(s): The Scarecrow

Top