Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Nightmare Fuel / Batman

Go To

The Dark Knight has been up against some truly terrifying moments, no doubt in part due to his extensive Rogues Gallery and the latter being made of a good chunk of dangerous and scary psychopaths. Below is but a smattering of the scariest moments.

Heavy spoilers for several comic series are below. Non-comic book examples for Batman belong on those appropriate pages.

    open/close all folders 




  • Brian Azzarello's Joker is full of nightmare-inducing sequences including skinning a man alive, rape, torture, the Joker crying on a hooker-like Harley Quinn, and much, much more. The comic's narrator becomes so horrified by the Joker's worldview that he ends up committing suicide to escape.

A Death in the Family

  • Right after The Killing Joke was published, we had A Death in the Family, where the Joker showed everybody that The Silver Age of Comic Books was over the hard way by brutally beating the second Robin, Jason Todd, with a crowbar in front of his biological mother, whose reaction is to turn her head away and light up a cigarette. As if that weren't enough, he then leaves them both in a warehouse that blows up just as the battered Jason manages to untie his mother, killing them both. The fact that it was drawn with the bright colors of the Golden/Silver ages, but added just enough shading to look realistic, only made it worse; you've never seen blood this scarlet. And he does it all with that smile on his face.

Batman: No Man's Land

  • As unbelievable as people find it, the No Man's Land storyline had quite a bit. First, the very premise: Gotham City is mostly destroyed and public facilities are practically destroyed, then cut off from the rest of America, all laws, and all support, while the wackos run free and split the remains of the city into a Gangster Land. Add multiple references to cannibalism, constant moral ambiguity, and the Joker doing classically barbaric Joker things like kidnapping babies and inciting insane cops to shoot their own, and you have a horror that's near impossible to laugh off. It was so bad that people wanted to stay in the Hellhole Prison that was being run by Lock-Up just to avoid living in the streets of Gotham.
  • Oh, about Joker's plan to kidnap babies? It's because he wants to kill them all off on New Year's, just to destroy the fragile spirit of the people of Gotham City. And let's not get started on what he does to Commissioner Gordon's wife.

Batman: Endgame

  • After Jim Gordon had shot the Joker, it looked like it was over until he stood up and took Jim's phone. The reader doesn't know what happened until the end of the issue.
  • The comic brings up the possibility that the Joker is an Eldritch Abomination terrorizing Gotham for centuries.
  • All of the possible origin stories for the Joker told by the insane patients were a bit unsettling.

Batman (Grant Morrison)

  • For a start, this run is the one that introduced Professor Pyg.
  • The Heretic's face: the head of a baby in a body of an adult.
  • (Un)Surprisingly, Batman himself in one chapter. After locating Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents, Batman stalks him for several nights. Then Batman, the man who swore never to commit murder, drove Chill to suicide! No wonder so many Batman villains are nuts. Sane people don't last long enough.
  • Doctor Hurt and the Black Glove's plan for Batman's final fate: bury Batman alive, not long enough to kill him, but long enough to shut down his brain and make him practically a vegetable. They then plan to dig him up, deform him to look like his worst enemy the Joker, and keep him as a brain-dead slave for the rest of his life.
  • Batman Incorporated #8. The entirety of Damian's death scene. Despite it arguably being a Dying Moment of Awesome, it was also a Rasputinian Death as Damian went through a lot of torture trying to appeal to his Mother's better nature before finally getting stabbed through the chest.


  • In The Man Who Laughs, we see the effects of the Joker's venom from Batman's perspective. Even though he gets better soon (as it's all part of a plan), the loss of sanity is terrifying. And you can't help but wonder if he was ever fully cured...
  • In Scott Snyder's run on the 2011 reboot of Batman, we're introduced to an Ancient Conspiracy in Gotham. One who knows Gotham better than Batman. This, in itself, isn't particularly terrifying. However, the more Batman investigates, the more he discovers just how powerful they are. And then they capture Batman himself, drug him and start to drive him completely insane in an enormous maze beneath Gotham. Seeing someone as cool and collected as Batman raving and terrified is shocking.
  • Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?: Alfred dressing up slowly as the Joker is bizarrely terrifying.
    And it did nothing at all... until I smiled...
  • Batman #497, also known as the 11th issue in the infamous Knightfall story arc, but better known by its title of The Broken Bat. Imagine being a little kid, or a long time Batman fan (which many of us likely were at that time) wondering how things would go with Bruce's confrontation with Bane, Batman gives a big speech, slaps on his mask... and then spends the whole issue getting his ass kicked. Really, after the first few pages where Bane lays out his motives, it's a one-sided confrontation from start to finish. Imagine the horror that must have gone through the minds of many readers as they watched their hero get massacred, his every attempt to fight back failing pitifully. the battle was over before it even began, and both Bane and Batman knew it. And then the final terrifying moment where Bane puts Batman out of his misery and breaks his back.
  • One Catwoman arc has Joker tag Catwoman with a pie containing a radioactive tracer, which Joker then uses to play a cat-and-mouse game with her. She's the mouse. He's chasing her with missiles. The scary part isn't that she's being traced, though that too is genuinely terrifying. The scary part is that the missiles aren't aiming for her. They're aiming for all the innocent bystanders, effectively making poor Catwoman a walking danger zone. Catsy said it best herself:
    "It's like some kind of childhood nightmare."
  • An alternate version of Two-Face's backstory is presented in Batman: Jekyll and Hyde. Two-Face was, as a child, accidentally responsible for the death of his older brother Murray, though his true innocence is up for debate. The implication is that said dead brother's spirit is inhabiting Harvey's body, responsible for the evil side of his personality.
  • Arkham Asylum: Living Hell: Warren White's literal maltreatment and abuse throughout the entire story leads him into a large dose of Sanity Slippage. After Warren finally does succumb to madness he becomes disturbingly calm about things. Not only that but it also leads Warren into a huge foreshadowing of him becoming "The Great White".
    • Jane Doe casually takes the identity and life of Dr. Carver before the events of the story. Anyone who knows Jane Doe in the DC Universe takes the very essence and identity of her victims through various information on her victims and takes their guise Body Horror style.
  • In Arkham Asylum: Tales of Madness, an innocent Arkham guard named Greg is held hostage by a bunch of villains, all in different art styles, as they take turns telling scary stories for the right to kill him. Greg narrates at the beginning of the story that he survived the ordeal, but at the end, they ask who told the scariest story, and when Greg says they're all scary and can't choose, they close in on him. Cut to weeks later when Greg's fiancee wants to see him, but when she does she finds he's in a catatonic state with the villains' names carved into portions of his body, his sanity utterly shattered. To top it off he reveals they call him "Jigsaw Man".
  • The first two issues of Batman: Streets of Gotham has Firefly secretly inject thousands of civilians with a chemical that allows him to cause them to spontaneously combust at the click of a button. Which he does, resulting in thousands of people burning to death for no apparent reason.
  • "Reality Check" from Batman's 80-Page Giant 2010 can best be described as a character study of The Joker that doubles as a horrific deconstruction of the Meta Guy:

  • The Joker. Pre-Crisis, Post-Crisis, it doesn't matter - he is the Trope Codifier for Monster Clown for a reason. In his very first appearance, he utilizes his horrible Joker Venom without a second thought, laughing off any inevitable deaths he causes. Chronologically speaking, even when you read a goofy Silver Age story where he's pulling some harmless heist, you're still looking at a Monster Clown with completely apathetic spree-killings on his criminal record.note  Another part of what makes him so scary is how random he is — he can be a harmless jester pulling elaborate pranks one minute and without warning try to poison the whole of Gotham. The worst part is that the Joker doesn't seem to notice any difference; pin-balling from Harmless Villain to crossing the Moral Event Horizon is as easy as breathing for him. Lastly, he instills fear into many in-and-out-of universes, especially if you happen to be coulrophobic (scared of clowns). All of this is manageable by someone who has no powers apart from an utterly unhinged mindset.
  • Scarecrow, anyone? His fear toxin is literal Nightmare Fuel!
  • The Riddler. Yeah, go on, laugh. A nerdy guy who can't even throw a punch, right? Just leaves stupid clues and makes it easy for Batman to catch him, right? Go read "Dark Knight, Dark City" (Batman #452-#454), which has, among other things, Riddler forcing Batman into slitting a baby's throatnote .
    • Notably, as is noted multiple times by both Batman and Riddler's henchmen, Riddler's lethal streak is flat-out uncharacteristic of him, not least because he flat-out kills a security guard, almost hangs another by the neck with a hangman's noose, and left a baby to choke to death... it gets worse when you find out that Batman rescuing the hanged guard by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and Batman opening the baby's throat to perform a tracheotomy were all part of Riddler's plan, but The Reveal gives no such reason for him killing the unfortunate other guard.
    • And why is he doing all this? He's performing a Satanic Ritual with Batman as the sacrifice and is putting Bats through all the prelim stuff before he kills him to unleash a demon on Gotham City. Holy fuck.
    • Other versions, like the Arkham games, play up his penchant for Death Traps to Jigsaw-levels.
    • Batman #23.2 does a good job showing how terrifying Riddler can be. Breaking into Wayne Enterprises, killing anyone who stands in his way, all so he can play a game of solitaire in peace.
  • Professor Pyg is what would happen if David Lynch created a Batman villain. He's a middle-aged man with a pig mask and butcher clothing and he's terrifying. In his first appearance, he has a bunch of Dollotrons (human zombie dolls) holding a criminal accomplice down so Pyg can make him one as well, and tells said accomplice that he'll then help Pyg do the same to the man's niece. Then, in the third appearance, he gives a tied Robin (Damian Wayne) a very odd and disturbing Motive Rant that seeps quickly into a Villainous Breakdown, all while dancing with power tools to "sexy hot" disco music. Robin simply responds as he breaks free, "You just redefined 'wrong'."
    • The Dollotrons themselves are deeply disturbing, being regular people who have unwillingly undergone a process of creation that is not entirely revealed but is implied to involve brain surgery, genital mutilation, and mind-altering drugs. They are also given a fleshy doll-like mask that is permanently attached to the victim's face.
  • Batman's code against killing suddenly becomes terrifying:
    Young Miscreant: I'll blow her head off! I swear I will!
    Batman: ...And I swear that if you harm that woman at all, I'll make you pay! I will break and twist things within you. You can't conceive of the pain I can cause. It's pain that will go on forever. You won't escape it... BECAUSE I WON'T LET YOU DIE.
  • James Gordon Jr. is one of the scariest new villains in recent comic book history. Completely separate from his heroic family members, James Gordon Jr. is an unrepentant psychopath and Serial Killer through and through. Part of what makes him so terrifying is that he can pull off a feeling of normalcy but there's always a sense that there's something wrong with him. Then we understand how vicious he truly is when we see him dismembering a man who stole his glasses a decade before. His psychological mind games are brutal and reminiscent of The Joker in ways but without any comedy factor. For example, driving knives into his sister's paralyzed legs, letting her know that they're in arteries and also saving her by blocking them from bleeding it, and then proceeding to pull one out.
    • Then there's his ultimate plan. Taking a drug designed to curb sociopathic tendencies and induce some empathy and reverse the effects, to drug every infant in Gotham to turn them into sociopathic killers like him. Even worse, he may have succeeded.
  • One particularly creepy, but rather unknown, adversary of Batman is Jane Doe. She is, as quoted by one of her personas, "a cipher, she's incomplete, her life is empty, so she covets the lives of others. She takes their lives so she can have their lives." In short, she learns people's traits, kills them, then wears their skin and acts like them. If that, and what's really under her skin doesn't unnerve, it's also worth noting she's primarily responsible for turning Warren White into The Great White Shark, who would go onto be one of Gotham's most feared mob bosses.
  • Batman himself is this in All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder. Unlike his dark but heroic counterparts in most media adaptations and comic books, this Batman is a psychotic, violent, unstable, bloodthirsty sadist who KIDNAPS Dick Grayson and forces him to become Robin against his own will, verbally and physically abuses him, to prevent him from grieving over his parents' deaths, even slapping the boy in the face and gloats that he is going to put Dick through hell with a sadistic smile on his face, which is Nightmare Fuel in itself. He also leaves Dick to fend for himself in the Batcave, by eating rats, and then when he finds out Alfred fed him a proper meal, he threatens him. Alfred is the closest thing Bruce currently has to a father. He also takes a creepy and borderline pedophilic interest in Dick, watching him before he became Robin. And as pointed out in Linkara's review of the comic, Batman sounded like he was going to kidnap Dick Grayson even if his parents were alive and possibly would have killed the boy's parents himself if the assassin didn't do it first. And that's not all. He murders criminals in various cruel and shocking ways, like throwing a Molotov cocktail that engulfs several criminals with flames and also attacking corrupt police officers with sadistic joy. Also, thanks to Alternative Character Interpretation via possibly Accidental Innuendo, it is implied that Batman was involved in an incestuous relationship with or sexually abused by either of his parents, giving him a Freudian Excuse.
  • Damian's face as he is about to engage the 99 Fiends. The immediate snapping of a hellhound's neck as he proceeds to cut the limbs off of several of his opponents doesn't help either.
  • There's a reason Victor Zsasz hasn't been featured or alluded to in any family-friendly animated adaptations. The man carves a mark on himself for every victim he kills... and he has a lot of marks. Zsasz stands out among Batman's rogue's gallery in being a simple, straight-up serial-killing psychopath. He has no supervillain origin, no sympathetic motives, he just likes to kill people. Or "free the zombies" as he calls it. Especially women. He doesn't wear a suit or rule an empire. He's just some guy. He could literally be anyone.
  • Batman himself is this to criminals. Even those who don't fear Superman are generally terrified of Batman.
  • A brief Supergirl-Robin team-up reveals that on the one hand, Gotham's supervillains are completely out of Supergirl's league... on the other hand, Gotham's supervillains tend towards way more depraved than she's used to.
  • The countless expies that Batman (and his allies) had to deal with throughout his years as a vigilante crimefighter is no laughing matter either! They're virtually literal dark mirrors on the Dark Knight himself and what he would have done had he not been so vigilant in his struggles for justice and the sanctity of Gotham City and the Gothamites residing. There are a few that deserve well-given mentions here since in their encounters they become something to dread whenever they show up. The infamous few that are just as much as our beloved Cape Crusader himself: 1. Owlman 2. The Wrath (I & II) 3. Hellhound 4. Catman 5. Killer Moth and finally the best for last. 6. Prometheus. Why him? Because he single-handedly out bested the entire JLA! And of course, to add more to this already hellish mentioning of true evils that mirror the Batman to a T. We have Joker, Two-Face, Riddler, Scarecrow to name the few that mirror him just as well. Albeit, not as close as the aforementioned doppelgangers before them but just as bad.
    • What do you get when Batman is overwhelmed by the Joker's personality? The Batman Who Laughs, a nightmarish ghoul who is essentially the DC Universe's version of Judge Death.
  • There are also dark mirrors of Bruce Wayne as well to add more to the fuel. Thomas Elliot a.k.a Hush is the perfect closest to a doppelganger to Bruce. The irony that these two share when they were once childhood friends to one another's families and to each other. At the same time, both suffered the losses of their mothers and fathers. The only slight difference? Bruce lost his family through heart-wrenching tragedy. Thomas on the other hand lost him through his means. He sought personal independence due to the many years of abuse from his father and frail mother and wanted to obtain his inheritance sooner. He cut his parent's tire breaks on their car and manages to kill his father, yet his mother was saved by the exceptional operational skill of Dr. Thomas Wayne fueling his hate for the Waynes. Years later he finished what he started by suffocating his mother in cold blood with a pillow, all as the world thought that it was just a simple household accident. He murdered them just to obtain the family fortune. And he resents Bruce because he obtained his true loss BEFORE his own family's demise. Hush's sole purpose in life is to destroy both the Batman and Bruce Wayne and will stop at nothing to accomplish his goals.
  • Roman Sionis. Or as his well-known alias in crime, The Black Mask. Roman is another dark image of what would have happened or come to be if Bruce was a remorseless business mogul. Roman Sionis's road to crime began because of a few mistakes in his poor planning and control of his business. Seeing turmoil of Roman's mistakes, Bruce Wayne bought the struggling Janus Cosmetic Company from Roman and relieved him of his control and began fluctuating his once previously owned company, and began making its return in booming success. Roman was outraged by this. In turn, he founded the False Face Society and undertook many autocracies, and became a big player in the criminal underworld. Not only does he deal in the "arrangements" of his business against his associates or rivals alike, he makes sure that he gets his points across as best as he can. And as a Bonus! During a certain moment in Batman's crime-fighting career, during a bout against the Dark Knight. Roman's desperate attempt to thwart Batman and Robin at his father's manor ended up with Roman setting it ablaze. Desperate to flee the burning structure, Batman and Robin incapacitate his legs with a Batarang attached cable causing him to fall face-first into his flame-engulfed, toys bringing his horrific accident to fruition. Roman ended up searing the very mask that is forever bound to his face. His face, now a grimacing skull of hate and rage as an untitled vendetta against Batman and his allies. He should be mentioned here for the horrific inducing moments that he has delivered in Gotham City.
  • Batman's disturbing portrayal of drug dependency in "Venom" which has a good dose of Nightmare Fuel and Truth in Television thrown in full spades. Part of the Legends of the Dark Knight anthology series (issues 16-20), Batman's reason for turning towards the fictional synthetic drug is because he failed to save one little girl from drowning to death in a cavernous section of the sewer. He ends up working unwillingly with the creator of the very drug and the father of the said aforementioned girl, Randolph Porter, and begins developing sensational use of the drug. Batman starts undergoing many changes (physically, psychologically, and through motor functions). It's hard to read the whole story from beginning to end since we get to see firsthand that Batman's reliance and dependency on Venom end up showing an almost rarely seen human side of him. Begging and pleading for more of the stuff and wallowing in himself inside. And besides being weak, he becomes more highly deranged with occasional roid rages and enjoys causing pain and suffering on his foes (surprisingly without nearly killing them!). It's both disturbing and sad to see the beloved Dark Knight turn into a big shambling drug user. And not only does it affect him, but it also nearly destroys the kindled friendships of Commissioner James Gordon and Alfred, with him beginning to question Bruce's health and well-being. For Bruce to overcome the addiction, he needed to isolate himself for a straight 30 days in his cave! As you might expect, during his detoxing period, he undergoes various craves and also suffers horrific hallucinations. This very arc from beginning to end is just Nightmare Fuel, to begin with. Oh! And if you think just the description itself is bad... Wait till you get a load of This!
    • Possibly worse than his drug addiction is seeing the little girl drown on-panel as he tries desperately to save her by lifting a heavy rock. The waters rise every panel and page until she's completely submerged, and Batman finally lifts the last of the debris, only for her still body to be shown in a single panel on the following page. And, as revealed later, her father was in on it and intended for her to die so Batman would feel guilty.
  • Two-Face. Harvey Dent's bout with his "evil" side of himself holds many classic struggles of one's internal thoughts. Not only is he unpredictable, well organized, and wily, but he's also shown to be adept and highly dangerous. From his obsession with the number two (.22 caliber guns, second place trophies, the 2nd National Banks, etc.) judging people's fate by a flip of his scarred sided coin, to being a creepy Stalker with a Crush with Renee Montoya. Everybody knows of his horrific mangled left-sided face. But when you delve deep into his character and history, one can understand and summarize on what drove him to become on who or what he is. All because of one instance during court by a certain thug Salvatore Maroni testifying during the infamous "Holiday" murders.
  • Killer Croc. A terrifying semi-human monster. He's completely ruthless, has the strength of a crocodile, and can regenerate. As time has gone on, his mind has regressed more and more into that of a deranged animal. He now resides in the sewers beneath Gotham and preys on anyone unfortunate enough to get lost down there.
  • Bane. Merciless, bloodthirsty, intelligent, tactical, and completely, unbelievably brutal, he's the one remembered for delivering the legendary finishing blow in the 1993 story arch Knightfall. The blow that not only shattered Batman's spinal cord and forced the Dark Knight into a brief retirement but also ruined him spiritually as well. Even after the "Knightsaga" Bane is still a nightmarish force to be reckoned with. His highlights on the list? Lets have a look! Bane fought Killer Croc to a standstill handicapped without the use of his precious Venom. He murders his father in a justifiable yet still dark Disproportionate Retribution (his father was King Snake, a terrorist leader, martial artist, and ruler of a terrorist organization called Kobra). And if you want to be in his crosshairs, wait till he juices up with Venom. Being a dark mirror (like many villains that go against Batman) it goes to show how utterly terrifying Bane can be just like his rival.
  • Clayface. Formerly a prestigious actor acclaimed for a certain role, now he is just a sadistic, psychopathic killer. Sure, a humongous, hulking mud body may not be that scary to some (though it depends on the source material), but think about this: he can physically turn into anybody. From your best buddy to your loving partner, even to your mom or dad. And you may not even realize it until he decides to turn you into a pasty red smear.
    • His updated story from Detective Comics considerably ups the Body Horror. Here, it's shown Karlo Senior was a Ray Harryhausen Expy, specializing in monster movies, whose preferred medium was a mixture of wax, putty, and a gel designed to remold industrial plastics without heat. When, later in life, Basil gets in a disfiguring car accident, he uses the remainder of his dad's stock to remold his face and later tries to buy more. However, he's unsuccessful - the company pulled it out of the market because it had the bad habit of melting off the hands of the people who worked with it. Eventually, as per Clayface tradition, Basil gets a full-body bath of the stuff.
    • If that isn't enough to lose sleep over, there's also always high wonderful levels of Body Horror involved. Shapeshifting abilities aside for infiltration purposes. He can morph various parts of his body into deadly solid matter or weapons. Even capable of smothering his victims within his very body... shudders*
    • Then there is Preston Payne, the third Clayface. Unlike his predecessors Basil Karlo (originally just a man wearing a clay mask) and Matt Hagen (the first Clayface with superpowers), Payne was a scientist who created an enzyme from Matt Hagens blood, intended to cure a pituitary gland disorder. It seemingly worked and also briefly gave him shapeshifting powers, but this was short-lived, and Payne's flesh began to painfully melt, as well as giving him the ability to meet others by touch. This understandably drives him completely insane and forces him to wear a containment suit, but he is driven to kill because spreading his contagion to others is the only thing that stops the pain of his Body Horror. Notably, this is the version that appears in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. His appearance there is ever more horrifying.
  • Ra's al Ghul. A man who has lived a millennium throughout time and many centuries come and gone. A man who in his mind was cursed than truly blessed. His cynicism towards his fellow man is horrid yet, somewhat understandingly truthful. Seeing humanity grow greedy and vile throughout the years he decided to take upon himself his supposed best course of action to take. Which is pure global genocide. There was a time that Batman agreed (in an understanding and intellectual conversation) about his view. Yet is disgusted that it has to involve the many lives that it would cost. Batman stands his ground and protects all life which in Ra's eyes is most unfortunate.
    • Not only that, having to witness the rise and fall of empires and containing many world knowledge makes him a worthy and terrifying foe in Batman's gallery of pure evil. And if that wasn't enough, there’s always the dreadful temporary side effects of the Lazarus Pit. The user would undergo temporary insanity and blood lust, often attacking friend or foe alike with little to no remorse.
    • The sheer fanaticism of the man in pursuit of his twisted "ecological" goals is frightening. We are talking about a man who cheerfully supported the Holocaust. Worse, we are talking about a man who not only allowed his daughter to be put in a concentration camp, he actually showed up at the camp to talk to her, dismiss her begging for salvation for herself or at least her children, and explicitly state that this is necessary. Both to cull humanity's numbers, and because she dared to not agree with his genocidal plans.
    • How about the fact that, in recent years at least, the publishers have stopped presenting him as anything other than a delusional madman enraptured with his immortality and status as a "living god" who clings to his goals so he doesn't have to admit he's just a monster?
    • In Batman Beyond, he has seemingly died, and his daughter Talia has taken over the League of Assassins, returning to a now elderly Bruce and trying to persuade him to undergo rejuvenation in the Lazarus Pit. It eventually revealed that Ra’s had switched his mind with Talia to avoid death when his body finally broke down and is now trying to get Bruce's as well.
  • Catwoman, believe it or not, can be this if she's pushed far enough. Just ask Black Mask.
  • Professor Hugo Strange, another well-remembered and early recurring antagonist that predates fellow rogues the Joker and Catwoman. In his early heydays, the Professor (like many others that fit the theme and times of the days of old) was a classic Mad Scientist throughout the 1940s. Mastering the art of chemicals, psychology, genealogy he did many unspeakable things For the Evulz. (Batman and the Monster Men come to mind?) He always pulled off cliffhangers on our readers and always returned more determined than the last. In recent years, he has proven to be more wily, dangerous, and even deranged than his previous incarnations. Being the very first villain and man to discover Batman's secret identity and having deep-rooted resentment against Batman in very squicky fantasies (dressing up as Batman in a very creepy makeshift costume based on his, talking to a female mannequin, and kidnapping Mayor Klass's daughter). Heck, the man managed to gain control for a brief time in Gotham during the Legends of the Dark Knight saga "Prey" by helping the G.C.P.D as a profiler to pursue and discover Batman's identity. Secretly, to tip the scale between Hugo and Batman he manages to take in an officer with seething hate and disposition with the Dark Knight and manages to hypnotize him and groom him into a murderous vigilante called "Night Scourge". Using this as a means to show Gotham that Batman is a threat to society than being its protector nearly got away with it and almost turned all of Gotham against him. Fortunately, Batman cleared his name and made a brave stance, and managed to prove to the police as well as the city that Hugo was not to be trusted. It gets so much worse though in the next arc titled "Terror". Hugo is working hand in hand with The Scarecrow. The entirety of the story shows Hugo more unhinged, deranged, and dangerous than previously in Prey. It proves that when Hugo shows up. Something is very wrong, that trouble is brewing with his presence...
  • The Flamingo. He's a sadistic assassin with a penchant for eating the faces of his victims. While wearing hot pink clothing and driving a flamboyant pink motorcycle would make most villains much less intimidating, the way Flamingo does it creates a disturbing contrast with his depravity, making it even worse.
  • Doctor Death (Karl Hellfern), a recurring villain for Cassandra Cain, is an arms dealer that specializes in weapons of mass destruction. At one point, he creates a gas that turns people into oil which would then be sold to help fund a tyrannical regime. Another time, he harvests hundreds of corpses to create a drug called Soul that turns people Axe-Crazy. His motivations seem to solely be a combination of money and science.
    • An interesting thing to take note of on Doctor Death, is he was the very first recurring villain to tangle with Batman in the same year as the Cape Crusader made his first appearance in 1939! As the years continued, so did his vile hatred of Batman and his ungodly experiments and private war against "do-gooders" alike.
      • His New 52 incarnation is nothing to laugh at either. Taking place in Batman: Year Zero, Doctor Death creates a serum that would strengthen bones to eradicate 'human weakness'. Later it's revealed he was one of three doctors studying regenerative drugs. His area of study was hard tissue, and his experiments caused his skeleton to grow uncontrollably without regard for his organs or muscles. The others, Hugo Strange and Paul Dekker, studied brain and soft tissue regeneration, respectively. To put it in perspective, the treatments they designed somehow went even worse than Hellfern's.
  • The Penguin. Yes, laugh at the fat ugly man with the pointy nose. He will use his virtually unlimited connections in the Wretched Hive that is Gotham to systematically ruin your life until you succumb to despair and kill yourself. A chef found that out the hard way. Even worse, the chef may not even have been laughing at Penguin, but that didn't matter to the Penguin. Someone laughed in his general direction, and so that person needed to not just die, but be broken entirely in the process.
  • Poison Ivy, a moral crusader with inhuman morals. She may be a hero sometimes, but that arguably makes her scarier since she's so inconsistent — except she thinks she's completely consistent. She's just giving humanity a chance to prove it's worth, and if we fall short in her eyes, that's our fault. There are moments when Ivy will backstab her allies, but will genuinely believe that she's actually helping them somehow.
    Now, take this insane thought process, and combine it with an impressive set of powers: pheromonic Mind Control, body-generated poison, scientific super-genius, and command over the plant kingdom. Ivy is one of the few metahumans in Batman's rogues gallery, and thus one of the strongest baddies he regularly faces. The idea of anyone with the power to hold a knife at all mankind's throat is scary enough; the fact that Ivy has actually managed to do just that more than once is even scarier. On top of that, she has a habit of using particularly gruesome methods in killing people like parasitic fungi or having plants grow inside them.
  • The unnamed man who simply calls himself "an innocent guy" in the story of the same name in Batman: Black and White that was also included in a special edition of The Killing Joke. Essentially, this is a guy who's been decent and well-behaved his entire life. However, he wants to test this theory that the only way someone can be actually good and not just fear retribution is to commit something very evil to see which feeling wins out. What evil act does he want to do? Well, he initially thinks of chaining up a little girl in a sewer until she dies, but he then decides to assassinate Batman. He details his plan in disturbing detail where he'll just show up after Batman defeats one of his rogues, shoot him in the head, and just leave and destroy the evidence. Sure, it's arguably noncanon, he's a one-off character (though some fans notice the aforementioned Jim Gordon Jr. bears an awful resemblance to him), and his plan is more likely to fail than work, but he leaves a disturbing impact precisely because of how normal he looks. Hell, he could be even scarier than Jim Jr. because the latter, while looking normal, still has a very fantastical evil plan, whereas the "innocent guy's" plan is very crude, not requiring the brain of a criminal mastermind to devise, and thus seeming like something an average person would think of.

One-Shots & Limited Series:


Supporting Characters:

Live-Action Films

Live-Action Series


DC Animated Universe:

DC Universe Animated Original Movies:

Other Films