Batman Was Nearly Turned Into A Vampire

Bruce Timm attempted to make Batman a vampire in The Animated Series before Fox shut that idea down.

By Zack Zagranis | Updated

kevin conroy batman

Holy fangs, Batman! Fox censors stopped Batman: The Animated Series creators from turning Batman into a vampire. Slashfilm reports that Batman TAS co-creator Bruce Timm was keen to turn the caped crusader into a bloodsucker at one point but was shot down by the Fox Kids powers-that-be.

According to Timm, “we floated it past Fox Kids and they said ‘Nope! No Vampires!'” Timm tried to get around the issue by asking the execs at Fox, “Well what if he wasn’t really a Vampire?” Timm’s second attempt was met with a repeat of the channel’s “No Vampires!” edict.

Batman: TAS is considered by many to be the definitive version of the hero. The recent passing of Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy lead many to declare that the Dark Knight himself had died. That the show was able to reach such a level of success despite Fox’s strict censorship standards shows just how talented the creators were.

Fox’s “No vampires!” rule was just one of many the Batman: TAS writers were given to follow. According to Batman alum Mark Hamill, there were nine things the writers and artists were to keep out of the show at all costs. The list included, among other things, drugs, alcohol, nudity, and punches to the face.

Hamill voiced the Joker on Batman: TAS, a character that ironically was himself turned into a vampire in the animated movie The Batman Vs. Dracula. The movie was a spin-off of Fox’s follow-up to the animated series, The Batman. In the movie, Batman keeps an undead Joker locked up in the Batcave while he uses the madman’s blood to develop a cure for vampirism.

The Batman Vs. Dracula wasn’t the first time Bruce Wayne tangled with vampires. The 1991 Elseworlds one-shot, Red Rain saw the hero going up against Dracula and being turned into a vampire in the process. If only Bruce Timm had pitched his idea to DC comics instead of Fox, it might have actually gotten made.

Although Fox demanded that Batman: TAS adhere to a strict code of censorship, it was nothing compared to what fellow comic-book icon-turned-cartoon star Spider-Man had to deal with. The ’90s Spider-Man: The Animated Series was famously censored to a ridiculous degree.

The web slinger’s adventures were so sanitized that Spider-Man couldn’t throw a punch on his own show. All the fights on Spider-Man: TAS consisted of the hero either wrestling with his foes or webbing them up before any blows could be thrown. One studio note infamously demanded that Spider-Man not “harm the pigeons” when he ran around on rooftops.

Bruce Wayne may not have been able to drink the blood of his enemies, but he sure knocked them around plenty. Punches and kicks were effectively what the kids would have called Batman’s “love language.” In fact, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, the men responsible for the bulk of Batman’s shenanigans on TAS, found creative ways to get around almost all the forbidden items on Fox’s list.

To this day, Batman: The Animated Series remains one of the most beloved cartoons of all time. The entire vampire-free series is currently streaming on HBO Max.