In 2004, the Dark Knight flew back onto the small screen in his own show titled The Batman. Redesigning the classic character to be a bit younger and retooling his famous rogues gallery gave the series a unique point of view setting it apart from the Animated Series incarnation. They jammed over 40 different villains into its 65 episode (and 1 movie) run. And we’re going to rank them from worst to best in terms of appearances, looks, and contribution to the series overall. Keep your hands at your sides while we walk through Arkham Asylum!
41. The Penguin
While the Penguin is a top tier Batman villain, his presence in the show proves to be too much of a good thing. He is in the most episodes at a whopping 14, 21% of the show’s 65 episode run. He takes a more comedic turn in the series and is usually the brunt of the jokes. His storylines are always very similar and he often plays second fiddle to another villain. We love the Penguin but sometimes, less is more.
40. The Joining
Generic hivemind space bugs that attack Gotham (and the world) in the two-part season 4 finale. They serve the purpose of creating a threat which forces Batman and the villains to work together, however they aren’t anything special.
With the power of hypnosis, Spellbinder can put anyone under his command. In “The Butler Did It” he forces the butlers to steal from their employers until Batman puts a stop to him. Armed with illusions and various tricks, Spellbinder puts up a fight against the caped crusader. His design isn’t very captivating and he gets lost in the shuffle of the other great villains on the show.
Created specifically for the show, Rumor was originally supposed to be Hush.Wearing an invisible suit, Rumor poses as Gotham’s newest vigilante. Holding the other villains in cells, Rumor wants to rid Gotham of the villains (and Batman) once and for all. It’s a bit of a generic plot, but probably would have been better with the original Hush version.
Another villain created for the show, this Earth-shattering mercenary was anything but groundbreaking. He just isn’t a compelling villain especially one who debuts in the same episode as both Poison Ivy and Batgirl. Maybe it’s just that he doesn’t shine compared to the other two, but he feels out of place in the only episode he appears in.
36. Tony Zucco
Voiced by Mark Hamill, Zucco appears in Robin’s origin story. He is directly responsible for the death of the Flying Graysons. He is a more sinister version of the character and shows off his knife throwing kills to a trapped Batman. It’s a good iteration of the character, but not really treading new ground here.
35. Hugo Strange
Despite being the linchpin in a few different episodes, they miss the mark on Hugo Strange’s overall characterization. His stoic nature comes off more bland than intimidating. It’s a shame because he is involved in several really great storylines, but overall he just doesn’t live up to his namesake.
An AI created by Hugo Strange to study and trap Batman. The Digitally Advanced Villain Emulator is able to replicate the abilities of Batman’s deadliest foes. In the end, Batman is able to take down this artificial intelligence with a simple logic puzzle. D.A.V.E. just isn’t as interesting or innovative as H.A.R.D.A.C. is in the Animated Series.
33. Count Vertigo
When the Count comes to convert Gotham into a dizzy dystopia, Green Arrow teams up with the Caped Crusader to defeat the villain. His brief appearance isn’t enough to get a sense of how he would’ve been portrayed overall, but he sticks fairly close to his traditional look and feel.
Specifically created for the show, Cosmo Krank was selling toys to children that weren’t safe. Bruce Wayne had his company shut down and as a result Krank turned to a life of vengeance. Using his deadly toys as weapons, Krank tries to kill Wayne. Despite being a whimsical character, he is just too similar to some other characters.
31. Shadow Thief
For Black Mask seeing this shadow meant an early release from prison. In “What Goes Up,” the mob boss used this hired hand to aid in stealing a meteorite. Batman teams up with Hawkman to defeat the shady foe. Shadow Thief is a fun villain, but has a pretty generic design for the show. He is voiced by future Batman, Diedrich Bader.
Only appearing in the intro to the penultimate episode of the series, Toyman is a more colorful version of his comic book counterpart. Where he doesn’t dazzle as much, the creativity of the giant toys he uses are extremely well done. He would be higher if he had more than a few minutes of screentime in the series.
29. Maxie Zeus
The eccentric Maxie- excuse me- Maximillian Zeus builds gladiatorial battle armor to give himself the powers of Zeus. Unlike previous incarnations, he doesn’t believe himself to be the God, but rather lives up to his surname. Although standard villain of the week fare, the episode is fun and gives Batgirl a lot of screentime.
The flexible thief can get himself in (and out of) any situation. He is a contortionist that sets his sights on the same item Catwoman does, sparking a rivalry between the two. Typically a Flash villain, his abilities and patchwork look fit right in with Batman’s rogues.
Superman’s Kryptonite powered foe is no match for the Caped Crusader, but is menacing nonetheless. His body is massive and his metal skeleton is eerie to look at. His Kryptonite heart seems to be a bit off, positioned closer to his shoulder than the center of his chest. It is sad that he’s basically relegated to just being Luthor’s henchmen in the series.
26. Lex Luthor
Criminal mastermind Lex Luthor uses his superior intellect to outsmart the World’s Finest. Along with his trusty bodyguard, Mercy Graves, he uses Poison Ivy to control Superman. Luthor is a staple in the Superman canon and it would be remiss not to include him. This is a more extraordinary depiction of him than we have seen in recent versions. His elaborate plans complete with giant robots are a nice change of pace to see.
25. Harley Quinn
Instead of being a psychologist at Arkham Asylum, this Dr. Quinn has her own daytime talk show. This change, while an interesting choice, doesn’t add much. Her outfit is similar to the classic style, but with a larger headpiece. A good change is that Harley is more of a partner to the Joker and even helps plan some schemes. She is introduced in season 4, which may have been a bit too late in the series.
Keeping his classic Super Friends look, Sinestro comes to Gotham in order to wreak havoc. Luckily, Green Lantern is hot on his heels and enlists Batman’s help. He isn’t much different than other iterations of the character, but it’s always fun to see him on the small screen.
Once again presented as a professional cat burglar, Catwoman doesn’t have much of a different take in this series. Her episodes are fun and later on teams up with Batman on a few adventures. She’s not bad by any means, but lower on this list because she’s very much the same standard version of the character.
22. Ventriloquist and Scarface
Scarface lives up to his name by dressing like a bald Tony Montana while the Ventriloquist sports a more librarian look. The contrast of the two furthers their contrasting beliefs. There are a few wacky episodes like “The Big Dummy” where a giant Scarface holds the Ventriloquist in his hands, but all in all it’s a fun take on this typically tragic character.
21. Francis Grey
Francis Grey learned he could manipulate time while in prison. Although he was created for the episode “Seconds,” Grey seems like he could have been straight from the comics. The only complaint is that this story would have made a really interesting idea to revamp the Clock King, but they went with a different character entirely. Being able to stay one step ahead of the Dark Knight is no easy feat and this upperhand makes him a formidable foe.
20. Clayface II
Based on a more traditional take on the villain, Basil Karlo is an actor who wants to improve his abilities. Turns out that stealing a prototype Clayface cure is cheaper than acting lessons, so he goes that route turning himself into a monstrous version of the character. Once Clayface I (we’ll get to him later) turns good again, it was a smart move to add in another version of the character into the fold.
19. Black Mask
The ruthless mob boss is very scary in this show. The ebony skull mask is fused to his face, making him all the more sinister. With his henchman, Number One, Black Mask has several fun episodes including one where he kidnaps Lois Lane in order to face Superman.
18. The Terrible Trio
After stealing the Man-Bat formula, three college students transform into animal hybrids in this new take on the classic trio. The inclusion of the Man-Bat formula not only brings back an old foe, but creates the unique spin on these otherwise tame characters. Having an actual Fox, Vulture, and Shark (now a hammerhead version) to fight makes for some unique battles in this episode.
17. Killer Moth
As a member of “Team Penguin,” Killer Moth was a glorified intern, that is until he mutated into a large moth-like creature. Think Condiment King mutating into a giant ketchup packet. Seriously though, it was cool to see the character brought to life and have a nod to the 90s villain Charaxes.
16. Solomon Grundy
The urban legend of Solomon Grundy has been passed down among the Gothamites from generation to generation, so you can imagine their surprise when he emerges in the flesh. His skinny and zombie-like look add to the horror of him. It turns out that he is actually Clayface, but the real Solomon Grundy did appear in a few issues of The Batman Strikes! Tie-in comics. The creepy design and interesting twist make this episode and iteration of Grundy very memorable.
15. Mirror Master
Along with his partner, Smoke (get it?), Mirror Master wants to trap everyone in their own reflection, but he’ll have to be fast because the Flash is in town. Mirror Master is excellent in this iteration. The character design is fun and the addition of Smoke is great.
14. Wrath and Scorn
Sons of jewel thieves, the despicable duo donned the personas of Wrath and Scorn becoming the antithesis of Batman and Robin. Angry that Batman is putting away people like their parents, they team up with the city’s villains to rob Gotham blind. However, the two are no match for Batman and Robin. This is a fun episode and an interesting way to bring in an obscure 80s villain back into the fold.
13. The Joker
Up until Suicide Squad, this Joker was the most divisive version. The deranged look helped set the tone for the series and Kevin Michael Richardson gave him a very unique voice. Joker leans more into his namesake with some funny moments in the series. He is a bit uneven in tone, fluctuating from both dark and comedic relief. This unique take doesn’t get enough credit, which is why he is ranked fairly high on the list.
12. Killer Croc
More croc than man, this cajun-accented version of Waylon Jones is primarily shown working as a henchman for other villains. His background is only expanded upon in The Batman Strikes! comics. “Swamped” is a fun episode and the only time we get to see Killer Croc and Batman battle without any other villains interfering. Croc’s look is excellent for the character, but he probably should put on some pants.
Former game show child star, Arthur Brown, was devastated when he finally lost his 12 game win streak on the show “Think, Thank, Thunk.” He never got over it and years later the larger than life villain rigged a deadly version of the game to take out his revenge on the person who beat him. His design is very fun and the Quiz Show-esque plot is a fun detour for the show to take.
The show really expanded on this hotheaded character by giving him an arc over his four episodes. In “White Heat,” his final appearance, Firefly is exposed to a chemical isotope turning him into the deadly villain Phosphorus. It would have been great to continue exploring this character in his new form, now that his body could create fire.
After discovering a formula to turn into a bat, Kirk Langstrom terrorizes Gotham from the skies. In this version, Kirk Langstorm is albino and turns into an all-white bat. The contrast to Batman’s black and grey suit gives a really unique look to the character.
8. Everywhere Man
Another creation for the show, Everywhere Man is voiced by former Superman and current Atom Brandon Routh. The art collector and friend of Bruce Wayne creates a machine that can duplicate anything, including himself. The thief, well technically thieves, are able to be “everywhere” at once. He has a cool costume and is a fun villain. It’s sad that he only appeared once.
This deep cut character originally appeared during the No Man’s Land storyline, but was retooled for his animated debut. In this version, Gearhead is a cyborg racecar driver who can upgrade any vehicle with his nanotechnology. Will Friedele of Batman Beyond voices the fast and furious villain and really drives this episode, which is mostly why he is so high on this list.
Before the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it was The Batman vs. Dracula. The literary bloodsucker came back to life in Gotham’s cemetery, turning several of Batman’s foes into lifeless vampires. The film is excellent and has some cool action setpieces. Dracula works as a villain for the Dark Knight and offered a fun supernatural twist to the series.
5. Poison Ivy
A high school environmentalist and best friend to Barbara Gordon, Pamela Isley falls victim to a terrible accident leaving her part plant. Giving her a friendship with Barbara is similar to Bruce’s relationship with Ethan Bennett. It works for the character and gives Batgirl her own specific villain. The young environmentalist was ahead of the game when it came to being a high school climate activist.
4. Mr. Freeze
Throwing back to his original origins, Mr. Freeze traded his doctorate for diamonds with his thieving ways. Uncut Gems was being pursued by Batman when he had an accident in a nearby cryogenics lab. He is able to shoot freeze blasts from his hands. What’s cooler than being cool? Ice Cold. Freeze’s costume is killer after ditching his jar head for an icy helmet.
The Batman had one of the most unique takes on the character in recent years. The venom-filled giant was a mercenary for hire whose protective armor expanded as he got bigger. His red physique is slightly odd, but it still looks really cool.
2. The Riddler
Riddle me this: what do you get when you mix Freddy Kruger’s haunting voice with Marilyn Manson’s gaunt physique? The Batman’s Riddler. This gothic Gothamite is a vast departure from the typical bowler wearing rogue, which is why he works so well. The show upgraded him to be more of a cyber terrorist dealing in the business of “acquiring” information.
Clayface had a new face in this series, Detective Ethan Bennett. Created specifically for The Batman, Bennett was a good cop and friend to Bruce Wayne. He is turned into Clayface after an accident with “Joker Putty.” He is very much the stand in for Harvey Dent (who oddly didn’t appear in the series). The new take on the character gives some more depth to Clayface, who can be anyone, but wants to just return to his normal self.