Once a psychiatrist with a troubled childhood, Dr. Jonathan Crane was shunned by his peers and eventually fired from his job after firing a gun in a classroom. Feeling victimized by the society, he took on the persona of the Scarecrow, and began attempting to use Gotham City and its citizens as the subjects of his experiments on fear.
Scarecrow has a significant obsession with fear and takes great pleasure in inflicting terror and horror in other people. While he has been known to fight hand-to-hand, he is an expert in psychology and chemistry, and uses mental trickery, as well as fear-inducing drugs. The most famous of these is his trademark "Fear Gas" which causes terror and sometimes nightmarish hallucinations in those who inhale it. While he may appear insane, The Joker, an expert on insanity, has stated that he is not.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
The Scarecrow appeared multiple times throughout the game Batman: Arkham Asylum in sequences which were widely praised by critics.
Before his first meeting with Batman, he fills an elevator he is riding in with his fear gas, causing a series of hallucinations reflecting Batman's worse fears. Batman sees Scarecrow terrorizing a number of doctors and inmates in a room he cannot reach, sees Commissioner Gordon die, finds himself unable to contact Oracle, and sees cockroaches climbing over the walls and floor, before reaching the asylum morgue.
Here he hears disembodied voices telling him to leave the room, however, upon leaving he walks into an identical room with three body bags in it. In the first two body bags he finds the animated corpses of his dead parents, begging him to save them and blaming him for their deaths. In the third he finds Scarecrow who jumps out of the bag and growls into his face causing him to stumble. Upon getting up Batman finds the body bags gone and the area around him filled with chunks of the asylum floating in a whirling tornado. In the center of the tornado is a giant version of the Scarecrow. In a sequence that is meant to represent Batman's psychological struggle with the fear gas, he must climb through the landscape avoiding the searchlight beams coming from Scarecrow's eyes, and make his way to the Bat Signal that can be used to defeat him.
Scarecrow next attacks Batman with fear gas after he destroys Dr. Young's Titan formula. Batman finds himself walking down a corridor of the asylum, hearing what he heard in the moments before his parent's deaths. As he makes his way along the corridor it gradually becomes more and more like a city street until he sees his parent's bodies laying in from of him and he collapses in front of them, appearing to turn into a child version of himself. He then hears the voices of Commissioner Gordon and another officer as he is brought into police care, the other officer saying that as a rich child he will be fine, but Gordon emphasizing the damaging affects of his parent's deaths. Batman then appears to change back to his normal form before opening a door onto another psychological landscape akin to the previous one. This landscape however, features gothic architecture and animated skeletons along the way that Batman must fight.
Before the final "nightmare sequence" Batman is subtly sprayed with fear gas making his way to the Intensive Treatment area, before the game appears to experience graphical and audio glitches and the screen goes black, in an effort to trick the player into thinking the game has crashed. When audio and visuals return, the game appears to have rebooted, playing the introduction again, but with a number of key differences, including the bat signal being changed to resemble Scarecrow's face, players being told to use a fictional "J button" to skip the cutscene if they attempt to skip it with the normally assigned button, and the places of The Joker and Batman being switched.
In the cutscene, The Joker drives the Batmobile towards the asylum, with Batman bound in the back seat. After reaching the asylum Batman is escorted through on a stretcher he is bound to by The Joker, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow, and Victor Zsasz. They assess Batman as being severely mentally ill with a martyr complex and delusions of grandeur before Joker shoots him in the head, killing him. At this point the player receives the standard "Game Over" screen, but with a tip telling them they should use a non-existent "Middle Stick" on the controller to dodge.
Once the player chooses to retry the section, a gravestone for Bruce Wayne is shown, before Batman frees himself from the grave and finds himself surrounded by a number of versions of mentally disturbed versions of himself. He then walks out onto a final psychological battle with the Scarecrow where the environment resembles the Intensive Treatment area of the asylum. After Batman defeats Scarecrow in the dream world he is shown to be struggling with him in reality. The Scarecrow injects Batman with more of his fear toxin, plunging him back into the nightmare environment where he must face more animated skeletons. As he does he turns on additional searchlights which burn and eventually vanquish Scarecrow.
After this Scarecrow runs from Batman, horrified that he's survived enough fear toxin to turn ten men insane. He states that Batman is as crazy as the rest of the inmates, and announces an intention to release large amounts of his fear drugs into the Gotham City water supply. Batman catches up to him in the sewers, but before he can infect the water supply Scarecrow is attacked by Killer Croc, and disappears into the sewer. In one of the game's endings it is revealed that Scarecrow is still alive, his hand clutching onto a floating crate off the shore of the asylum.
Batman: Arkham City and Origins
Despite being a major character in Arkham Asylum, Scarecrow does not return in its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, however, there are a number of references made to him in the game. City inmates can be found in the game dressed in a garb that uses Scarecrow's iconography, suggesting they are his underlings, containers for his fear gas can be found in the city, and a hidden area contains an invoice from Falcone Shipping and "Mr. Fine" to Scarecrow. The invoice reveals that he has been sent over 15 shipments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that the shipment that the invoice is being included with contains live insects for research purposes.
Solving one of The Riddler's riddles in the game by finding and scanning a discarded Scarecrow mask reveals that Scarecrow has not been seen since his disappearance in Arkham Asylum. Some believe he was killed by Killer Croc, while others believe he survived by grabbing onto a container and floating out to sea. Batman had apparently searched for Scarecrow for months, not believing he was dead. In Arkham City itself, if the player uses Batman's cryptographic sequencer they can find a series of number stations scattered around the city. If the numbers taken from these broadcasts are decoded, the following messages can be found:
- "I will return Batman."
- "You will pay for what you have done to me."
- "Fear will tear Gotham City to shreds."
These signs all seem to point to Scarecrow making a return in the upcoming sequel, Batman: Arkham Origins. Some fans have even speculated that Scarecrow will be the primary antagonist of the game. Since Arkham City various gaming news outlets have reported that promotional kiosks for the game give away that Scarecrow will be a villain in the game.
Scarecrow appeared in Lego Batman as one of The Joker's accomplices, and at one point Batman and Robin must fight Scarecrow as he pilots a biplane. After Scarecrow is defeated he and his passenger, The Joker, float down into the Gotham Art Gallery using balloons. They are shortly confronted by police, who manage to capture Scarecrow, while The Joker escapes.
Scarecrow appears again in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. In a boss fight Batman and Robin must defeat Scarecrow and his minions with melee attacks, before completing a small puzzle so that his fear gas can be drained from the room and he can be finished off. Scarecrow can later be found at "Amusement Mile" inside a giant pumpkin. Here he uses his fear gas to appear exceptionally tall in combat, but if the player/s disable his three gas generators he returns to normal size, and can be defeated so that players can purchase him for use as a character.
Scarecrow appeared as a boss for the hero story track in DC Universe Online. In it he uses his fear gas to spawn small versions of Killer Croc. Scarecrow also makes an appearance on the Arkham Asylum stage of Injustice: Gods Among Us. In it players can knock opponents into Scarecrow's cell where he will inject them with fear toxin, before appearing as a giant figure in a swirling vortex as he does in the game Arkham Asylum, and punching the character through the floor.
Scarecrow as also appeared in a small number of other games, including The Adventures of Batman and Robin, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold: The Videogame.