Gotham, Beware! Here are the 26 Best Batman Villains of All Time

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On the Marvel Comics side of things, most fans would agree that Spider-Man has the most iconic rogues gallery. Those same avid comic book lovers would also agree with the fact that DC Comics' most iconic villains hail from the world of Batman. Bruce Wayne's nights spent as the vigilante "Dark Knight" of Gotham City means he's usually on the trail of his most dogged opposers - these individuals do everything in their power to disrupt the balance of the DC Universe in order to give the advantage to themselves and the villains contingent at large. The following list of the best Batman villains will feature faces everyone will recognize and even a few deep cuts that are a bit underrated in the grand scheme of things.

RELATED: 16 Batman Villains We'd Love to See In a Potential 'The Batman' Sequel

1. The Joker

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #1 (Cover-Dated Spring 1940; Published April 25, 1940)

Simply put, Batman wouldn't be complete without the chaotic presence of the Joker and vice versa. The Joker's problematic existence has led to Batman having to deal with pure anarchy within the confines of Gotham City and beyond. The "Clown Prince of Crime's" deranged demeanor, callous attitude when it comes to his allies & main squeeze Harley Quinn, and his love for high levels of destruction have given Batman the hardest obstacles to overcome. Joker's reign of terror in Batman: The Killing Joke is enough to get him on this list. But when you consider his killing off of Robin (Jason Todd) and feeding kids poisoned cotton candy, this face-painted menace is by far the most sinister member of Gotham City's villains' lineup.

2. The Riddler

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Detective Comics #140 (October 1948)

What The Riddler is severely lacking in the hand-to-hand department, he makes up for that missing element with a high level of intelligence. Whenever he pops up in Gotham City, a well-thought-out plan with some of the hardest breadcrumbs to track and riddles to solve will surely emerge in his wake. Batman's claim to fame as the "World's Greatest Detective" is put to the ultimate test whenever this quirky villain wants to endanger the lives of him and the city at large. The worst thing he's ever done is bring Gotham City to its knees by destroying its power reservoirs, overloading the city with water, and causing it to go back to an age where Mother Nature reigned supreme. And all the while, he still found the time to create a crazy method towards powering Gotham City back on just to mess with Batman once more.

3. Two-Face

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Detective Comics #66 (August 1942)

"You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." FACTS! We've watched The Dark Knight a million and one times, yet that Two-Face quotable still gives us chills. Harvey Dent's twisted psyche came to the forefront after he got a face full of acid from mob boss Sal Maroni. With his unfortunate scarred face, dissociative identity disorder diagnosis, and penchant for making major choices based on the two sides of a coin, Two-Face was born. Murdering Jason Todd's father, coming within inches of killing Dick Grayson, and pouring acid in Batman's eyes are among his most despicable acts.

4. Bane

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First Appearance: Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (January 1993)

We've become so accustomed to comic books featuring brawny brutes with the brain power of an everyday rock. We were pleasantly surprised when the world of Batman was turned upside down when the massive baddie known as Bane popped up and put his mix of intelligence & brawn to great use. It's pretty terrifying having to deal with someone who can crush your spine and tap into his mental prowess to further ruin your day. With "Venom" running through his veins, Bane has beaten the life out of Batman. His other wicked acts have consisted of freeing the inmates of Arkham Asylum, murdering poor old Alfred, and even becoming the Batman himself to place Gotham City under his (enormous!) thumb.

5. Scarecrow

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DC Comics

First Appearance: World's Finest Comics #3 (September 1941)

Jonathan Crane's obsession with fear and affinity for terrorizing the people of Gotham led to him becoming one of the most feared Batman villains of all time. He's not a physical specimen whatsoever, but there's no need for him to rely on brute strength when he can simply play on people's phobias and weaken them via his dreadful "Fear Toxin." Poisoning everyone with his toxin to make the world go mad is one of his go-to schemes, plus experimenting on young hapless individuals points to why he's such a deplorable member of the DC Universe at large.

6. Mr. Freeze

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DC Comics

First Appearance: As Mr. Zero: Batman #121 (February 1959) and as Mr. Freeze: Batman "Instant Freeze" (February 2, 1966)

Poor Nora. We feel for her debilitating condition and the fact that she's been placed into a cryogenic state in order for her beloved Dr. Victor Fries to find a cure for it. But the way Fries' alter-ego goes about trying to realize his goal always puts him at odds with Batman and his Bat Family. Freeze's genius-level intellect, damn near indestructible suit, lethal freeze-ray gun, and cryotechnology-powered gear make him an environmental nightmare for the people of Gotham. His past work alongside the "Secret Society of Super Villains" and his sick act of pushing his mother into a freezing lake point to Dr. Freeze's severe madness.

7. The Penguin

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Detective Comics #58 (December 1941)

The curiously named Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot has long reigned over Gotham's underbelly as a mob boss with refined taste (hence his nickname the "Gentleman of Crime"). And during his reign of terror, he's owned and ran the "Iceberg Lounge" while putting his underlings to good use to further his fiendish plans. Penguin's low moral fiber has come to be due to some truly nefarious acts, such as trying to eliminate Jim Gordon's wife, abandoning his only son, and actually making a bid at an auction to purchase Batman's true identity.

8. Killer Croc

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First Appearance: Batman #357

Whenever Batman finds himself in the sewers, lord knows he's bound to come to blows with the towering behemoth known as Killer Croc. The former sideshow attraction cursed with a rare genetic condition that gives him reptilian skin has fully embraced a life of crime that has constantly put him at odds with Batman. Cros's overwhelming strength and nasty bite always have us scared to death once he pops up in the panels of a DC comic book. Croc is known to snack on human flesh and make several attempts at trying to munch on the Dark Knight.

9. Clayface

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Detective Comics #40 (June 1940)

Through his many human incarnations, Clayface has captured our attention thanks to his wholly unique superpowers that allow him to don the likeness of anyone and everyone with his shapeshifting abilities. Seeing him take on the 1:1 look of superhero and supervillains alike is insane - he tends to dupe the many individuals that cross his path and catch them off guard when they least expect it once he ditches his copycat body double. Clayface's worst acts include murdering an entire movie crew just because they were remaking his most celebrated film, kidnapping Bruce Wayne's former fiance, and taking on the form of a deceased Jason Todd/Red Hood to screw around with Batman's psyche. This shapeshifting evil-doer is certainly one of the best Batman villains ever to grace DC comic book pages.

10. Ra's al Ghul

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #232 (June 1971)

Batman can never catch a break, man! A select few members of the best Batman villains are a bit more dangerous than the rest due to their vicious combat skills and strong brainpower that help them concoct the most sinister plans. And the one we've chosen to highlight here right now is the leader of the "League of Assassins" and the man whose name is translated as "Head of the Ghoul." Ra's al Ghul has been responsible for centuries of pain and suffering thanks to the use of his prized Lazarus Pits, which have kept him alive long enough to hone his skills in battle, military tactics, and more. Add his ability to transfer his soul to others and you have a despicable being that does his best to live as an immortal that takes aim at Batman every chance he gets.

11. Black Mask

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #386 (August 1985)

Penguin is a pretty badass crime lord, but Black Mask's reign of terror across Gotham has put him on the same level as the rest of Batman's list of mobster villains. And what makes Roman Sionis stand out is his fixation with masks and the weird pleasure he gets from watching his victims endure the most extreme bouts of torture. After getting a position in his father's company "Janus Cosmetics," Roman went all the way left by killing his parents to inherit their fortune and the business itself. But once he released a failed product that ran his company into the ground, a series of traumatic events caused him to turn to a life of crime to become the Black Mask. As far as the most ruthless Batman villains go, this dude has to get a mention.

12. Hush

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #609 (January 2003)

The twelve-issue storyline that delves into this villain's evil crusade against Batman is one of the greatest story arcs in DC history. Thomas "Tommy" Elliot's villain origin story points to how much of a madman he was early on - the man tried to off his parents to acquire their finances, but Thomas Wayne foiled his sinister plans by saving his mother. After growing up to become a skilled surgeon, Thomas embarked on a quest for revenge against the Waynes and attempted to ruin Batman's life once he learned his secret identity. His alter-ego of Hush gives him the ability to catch Batman off guard as a master of disguise with immaculate plastic surgeon skills.

13. Poison Ivy

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First Appearance: Batman #181 (June 1966)

Can you really be all that mad at Poison Ivy? She's an ardent evo-warrior that's only looking out for the planet itself by defending it from harmful influences. It's just the way she goes about keeping Earth's plant life intact that can be described as ruthless at best. Pamela Lillian Isley's villainous alter-ego can maintain supernatural control over all plant life, which lets her go on a rampage with the backing of an interplanetary force known as the "Green." Ivy's less-than-respectable behavior has resulted in her getting total control over Superman, making a play at trying to kill Damien Wayne, and feeding her plant's actual human flesh.

14. Hugo Strange

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First Appearance: Detective Comics #36 (February 1940)

Hugo Strange can't fight whatsoever and he doesn't have access to any sort of superhuman ability. And to be quite honest, he doesn't need any of that to instill a little bit of doubt & uncertainty into Gotham's trusted enforcer of justice. As a psychologist that used his connections to the villains encased within "Arkham Asylum," Hugo cooked up truly berserk plans and went out of his way to mentally abuse Batman once he learned his true identity. His ability to get in the head of far more powerful beings within the DC Universe shows just how much of a treacherous individual he truly is.

15. Professor Pyg

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #666 (July 2007)

Lazlo Valentin scares the hell out of us every time he shows up in Gotham! As Professor Pyg, he constantly kidnaps hapless humans in order to make them as "perfect" as possible in his eyes. This psychotic perfectionist defends himself with the assistance of mind-controlled automatons called "Dollotrons" and even goes way too far by producing nightmare-fuel beings in the form of human–animal hybrids. Professor Pyg's mask certainly creeps us out, but it's his penchant for performing back alley surgeries that truly keeps us scared for our lives.

16. Talia al Ghul

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Detective Comics #411 (May 1971)

Anyone that comes directly from the family lineage of Ra's al Ghul is bad news. His daughter rightfully claims a spot here amongst the most memorable Batman villains due to her conflicted nature. At one end of the spectrum, she loves Bruce Wayne - she birthed his son, Damian Wayne, after all! But her loyalty to her dad pushes her to see his vision (no matter how harmful it is!) all the way through whenever possible. As the leader of the League of Assassins' spinoff group "Leviathan," Talia has committed some heinous acts, such as having her own son murdered at the hands of a defective clone of his named "Heretic." As far as comic book mothers go, Talia's one of the worst.

17. Harley Quinn

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman: The Animated Series - "Joker's Favor" (September 11, 1992)

Fun fact - Harley Quinn didn't originate in the pages of DC Comics. She actually came into existence on the small screen as a part of the legendary cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series. Seeing as how she became a smash hit among viewers at the time of the cartoon's height of popularity, Harley got pushed into the comic book realm to indulge in lots and lots of havoc alongside her toxic boo thang, Joker. While she's a fun-loving anti-hero that has a huge fanbase, let's not ignore her terrifying behavior when she's pushed too far - Harley threw The Joker's daughter into oncoming traffic, swings a mean hammer whenever she brawls with Batman, and even slit Joker's throat at their own wedding!

18. The Batman Who Laughs

DC Comics

First Appearance: Dark Days: The Casting #1 (September 2017)

The Multiverse has different versions of Bruce Wayne/Batman that are just as heroic as the one we're used to seeing in the mainline DC continuity. But there are also versions of Gotham's savior that are less of a do-gooder and more of an immoral dirtbag. The "Dark Multiverse" realm of "Earth-22" is home to one of the scariest Batman villains of all time, The Batman Who Laughs. His overall design is extremely creepy and the fact that he raises hell with three demonic versions of Robin that act like rabid dogs points to how much of a destructive force he is. His sadistic nature has caused him to kill off the entire Bat-Family, infect Superman with black "Kryptonite," and even wipe out the "Justice League."

19. The Court of Owls

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman (Vol. 2) #6 (February 2012)

"Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time, ruling Gotham from a shadowy perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed, speak not a whispered word of them or they’ll send the Talon for your head." That nursery rhyme went from something Batman believed to be a myth to an all-too-real threat to his well-being. The sinister organization ruled by Gotham's societal elite has maintained dominance over the iconic city for centuries. And whenever they deem someone as an issue that can potentially disrupt their continued rule over Gotham, they send out their nearly immortal "Talons" to set things right. Batman and the rest of his Bat-Family certainly had their hands full when the crime syndicate and their chosen warriors ran rampant all over Gotham City.

20. Man-Bat

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First Appearance: Detective Comics #400 (June 1970)

When this rabid, winged menace comes to mind, we immediately go back to the amazing jump scare moment when we first encountered it in the Batman: Arkham Knight video game. We also remember him during his time spent on Batman: The Animated Series. And of course, we can never forget his constant clashes with Batman. The human side of Man-Bat (Kirk Langstrom) has had moments where he's maintained his sanity as the creature and performed acts of heroism. But we know all too well about his more manic episodes when he descends into Gotham as the biggest threat seen in the skies above. It's pretty wild how he convinced his wife Francine Langstrom to drink the very same serum that causes his animalistic change - Man-Bat and She-Bat were quite the couple back then, weren't they?

21. Catwoman

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #1 (Cover-Dated Spring 1940; Published April 25, 1940)

It's always fun to see Batman bump into Selina Kyle's cat burglar alias - the love they share for each other is palpable, but their opposite ideals when it comes to right and wrong regularly put them at odds. Catwoman is an interesting case when it comes to Batman villains due to the complex love-hate relationship that comic book fans are used to seeing play out in various forms of Batman media. When pushed to the edge, Catwoman can truly strike fear into her enemies' hearts - her stealing stuff pales in comparison to the time she shot Black Mask in the head!

22. Victor Zsasz

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1 (June 1992)

Victor Zsasz is one of the most sinister serial killers in comic book history. All those tallies you see etched into his skin come from the fact that this lunatic carves a mark onto himself for every one of his victims. He's come close to ending Alfred's life and has done some really disgusting deeds on behalf of his boss Black Mask at one point. Whenever Zsasz's bald head pops onto the scene, his creep factor demands our attention.

23. Calendar Man

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Detective Comics #259 (September 1958)

Speaking of Gotham serial killers, Calender Man takes the cake for his signature approach to taking the lives of his hapless victims - he commits murders on important dates, especially holidays. Batman: The Long Halloween is one of the greatest stories ever told within the DC Universe due to how much of a terrifying madman Calender Man presented himself to be. The Hannibal Lecter vibes attached to this dude are very strong, we must say!

24. Mr. Bloom

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #43 (August 12, 2015)

We'll always champion Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman comic book run as they provided memorable stories and striking art that invigorated one of DC's most popular vigilantes. One of the original bad guys that spring up during their run is Mr. Bloom, whose sole goal was to wipe out everyone in Gotham with the use of some special seeds. And why did he want to do this, you ask? Because of a morbid need to improve the world by starting anew. With such a twisted goal in mind, it's easy to see why we recognize Mr. Bloom as one of the scariest Batman villains.

25. Firefly

DC Comics

First Appearance: Detective Comics #184 (June 1952)

Let's revert back to Batman: Arkham Knight for a second here - the "Gotham on Fire" side quest put us at odds with the Batman villain we're speaking of right now. Chasing down Firefly as he tried to burn down an already hampered version of Gotham was unforgettable. And in the comics, we're always keen to be excited about his presence since his love for setting things ablaze and zipping through the skies with his mechanized wings always leads to some fun battles with Gotham's Dark Knight. Firefly is the epitome of a sociopathic pyromaniac.

26. Mad Hatter

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DC Comics

First Appearance: Batman #49 (October 1948)

Somehow someway, the world of Batman got injected with a more sinister dose of Alice in Wonderland character tropes and it actually worked to perfection! The man named Jervis Tetch is a scientist who's simply infatuated with using technological mind control devices to take over the minds of his victims. We're sure you guys remember Mad Hatter's many appearances in the Batman: Arkham games and his signature episode in Batman: The Animated Series ("Mad as a Hatter"). He might not be able to beat you in submission, but Mad Hatter is still capable of tripping up Batman with psychological warfare and mind-controlled goons. And with all that being said, we've finally reached the end of our list of the best Batman villains of all time!

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