The original Batman: The Animated Series ran for 85 episodes from 1992 to 1994. Batman and Gotham City had never looked so good under the design of producers and artists Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski. Timm even reached out to DC Comics artists like Kevin Nowlan and Mike Mignola to design several key villains like Mr. Freeze and Joker.
Afterwards, the creative team moved on to Superman: The Animated Series. Eventually, Batman was introduced in Superman with a design that matched the series. A new Batman show, The New Batman Adventurespremiered shortly after, using the new visual style that was established in Superman. Unfortunately, some characters looked worse than their original BTAS counterparts.
10 Worse In The New Adventures: Riddler
Voiced by John Glover — the talented actor who played Lionel Luthor on Smallville — the Riddler was an imposing villain, not because of his size or physical presence but because of his intelligence. throughout BTASthe Riddler appeared several times, challenging the Dynamic Duo with a series of deadly riddles.
Riddler trapped them in giant mazes and even virtual realities. His first design looked great. He wore a green suit and tie and seemed to carry himself with confidence and superiority. Riddler’s new design involved a simple spandex suit with a big question mark on the front. Thankfully, this new design only appeared a few times.
9 Better In The New Adventures: Commissioner Gordon
Commissioner James Gordon was one of Batman’s closest allies throughout the entirety of both BTAS and TNBA. He was undoubtedly Batman’s closest ally outside the Bat Family. While Detective Bullock led the charge against the Caped Crusader, Gordon was always quick to defend The Dark Knight.
Gordon’s character design didn’t change too much from one series to the other. His fashion sense — a brown trench coat and tie — remained the same. His physical appearance, however, was much sharper and appropriate in TNBA. In the new series, Gordon looked thinner and older, with white hair instead of gray. He seemed like a more weathered police officer, closer to retirement.
8 Worse In The New Adventures: Penguin
While the Penguin was one of Batman’s most popular villains in the comics and television series before the 90s, he was underwhelming in Batman: The Animated Series. The Joker had his maniacal schemes, the Riddler had his interesting puzzles, and Scarecrow and Mad Hatter had their manipulations of reality and perception.
The Penguin’s original design was fantastic as it accentuated his unconventional appearance. The character design was heavily influenced by Danny DeVito’s version of the villain in Batman Returns. When the series relaunched as TNBAPenguin’s exaggerated appearance was toned down and the villain — as well as his design — became less exciting.
7 Better In The New Adventures: Poison Ivy
Pamela Isley dedicated her life to preserve nature and attacked those she believed responsible for its destruction, like Harvey Dent and Batman. Her original design was based heavily on her original comic book counterpart. She was a human with red hair who wore plant-themed costumes.
In The New Batman Adventures, Poison Ivy’s design was drastically altered, making her more plant-like. Her skin was completely white, and she had a stronger command over nature. Her new design matched the evolution of her character and her power. Since then, both versions of Ivy — more human-like or more plant-like — have been used interchangeably in many comic books.
6 Worse In The New Adventures: Catwoman
Selina Kyle appeared in many BTAS episodes and far fewer TNBA episodes The relationship she shared with Batman was very similar to the relationship shared between their comic book counterparts. There was always the possibility of romance, but Selina’s criminal instincts combined with Bruce’s dedication to being Batman made it impossible.
Catwoman’s design in BTAS was striking and original. The gray design mirrored Batman’s, and she stood out from the dark Gotham backgrounds. In TNBA, her costume was almost entirely black, and her eyes were covered. A lot of her emotions and expressions were lost in this new design.
5 Better In The New Adventures: Batgirl
Barbara Gordon was introduced in “Heart of Steel,” but she didn’t become Batgirl until much later in the “Shadow of the Bat” two-parter. She only appeared in a few BTAS episodes, sporting her gray and blue costume inspired by Batman’s original costume.
When the series relaunched as The New Batman Adventures, Barbara donned a new costume unique to Batman’s new design. Whereas Batman’s was gray with a black cape, Batgirl’s costume was almost all black, with her yellow cape and insignia standing out. The design looked much more like the costume she wore during her comic book debut in Detective Comics #359.
4 Worse In The New Adventures: Mr. Freeze
Mr. Freeze only appeared in two BTAS episodes and one TNBA episode, but he left quite the impression despite the limited screen time he was given. Paul Dini re-contextualized the character when writing the “Heart of Ice” episode. Mr. Freeze was no longer a villain obsessed with ice and diamonds.
Mr. Freeze was a scientist desperately searching to cure his wife and get revenge on those who turned him into a literal cold-blooded monster. While both his designs were menacing — both sporting high-tech metallic suits of armor — the BTAS was more memorable for one key difference: the goggles. The BTAS Freeze sported red goggles that glowed in dark environments, creating a chilling appearance.
3 Better In The New Adventures: Bane
Bane was one of the last villainous additions to Batman: The Animated Series, appearing in the episode “Bane.” His entrance in the TV show wasn’t quite as memorable as his debut in the comics. In his comic debut, Bane orchestrated a massive Arkham Asylum breakout and broke Batman’s back in the “Knightfall” comic arc. In BTAShe was defeated by the end of his first episode.
Bane made an incredible comeback in TNBAepisode “Over the Edge,” considered by many to be one of the best of the series. Bane originally looked like a wrestler, but his revamped appearance was much more menacing. He wore a spiked collar and sported unsettling red irises.
2 Worse In The New Adventures: Joker
While the Joker was one of the greatest villains in the animated series, Mark Hamill’s vocal performance is what made him iconic. The Joker was the main villain for many of the greatest episodes of the series including “The Laughing Fish,” “The Man Who Killed Batman,” and “Almost Got ‘Im.” The Joker’s original design closely matched his design from the comics.
Joker’s hair was mostly black with green highlights, his lips were red, and his teeth and eyes were yellow. He lost many of his trademark features when the series entered the New Batman Adventures era. He lost the green highlights and red lips, and his eyes were simplified. The Joker also lost much of his visual expression and sense in the new design.
1 Better In The New Adventures: Scarecrow
With a gimmick like fear toxin, it’s no wonder the Scarecrow easily became one of the scariest Batman villains of the series. He appeared in many fantastic episodes of BTAS, like “Dreams in Darkness” and “Fear of Victory.” His original design looked very much like a scarecrow. He wore ragged clothing with a deformed mask that had straws sticking out of it.
Scarecrow’s look was pretty scary but nowhere near as scary as the design he would sport in TNBA. Scarecrow made a memorable debut in the episode “Never Fear.” He wore a black trench coat, with a zombie-like mask and hangman’s noose around his neck. He didn’t look like he was wearing a costume at all. Scarecrow looked truly monstrous.