First premiering in the late 1990s, Batman Beyond has come to be a beloved series in the greater DC Animated Universe, which includes both Batman and Superman, along with Static Shock and both Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Taking place in a future where Bruce Wayne became a reclusive old man, the show’s main protagonist was Terry McGinnis, a high school teen who ends up taking on the mantle of Gotham’s new Batman. Featuring an array of characters and heady themes (especially for a kids show), BB was a favorite among many and has remained popular to this day.
Unfortunately, the show didn’t receive a proper ending, as it was cancelled in the early 2000s. While it did receive a movie (Return of the Joker) and a sort-of finale in an episode of JLU, the show left some plot threads hanging, some of which could have been answered later, or were mysteriously abandoned early on. This list ponders and investigates mysteries the series (and movie) left us with, some of which went truly unanswered. We’re not including any comic book spin-off lore as hard truths, since how it would fit into the greater DCAU canon is nebulous at best. Also, certain episodes of JLU (most prominently “Epilogue”) will be brought up when relevant to the entry.
Strap yourself in, because these are 15 Unresolved Mysteries And Plot Holes BatMan Beyond Left Hanging.
15. What happened to Max?
Introduced in the episode “Splicers”, Max became one of Terry’s best friends and a major supporting character in the series. She was smart, sassy, but also very helpful and integral to helping Terry when he needed it. She even learned he was Batman, meeting Bruce Wayne and assisting the both of them in the process. As such, she had a prominent role in most of the series.
It’s what makes the question of what happened to her such an interesting one. This character was such a fixture of the show and Terry’s company that it’s odd her future is then put into question. She’s not mentioned in any of the JLU episodes that take place in the future; not even in “Epilogue”, which could have easily brought her up in some way, but didn’t.
14. What happened to Hamilton Hill High?
This one’s interesting because it implies something happened while we, the audience, weren’t looking. At the end of BB, the high school seems just as fine as it has been since the very first episode. Sure, weird things have happened at the school (and plenty of villains have originated from it), but it was a functional place for students and teens.
But in the JLU ep “The Once and Future Thing, Part Two: Time, Warped”, we see that, at some point in the future, the high school is abandoned, derelict, now run by gangs. While the JLU episodes set in the future don’t offer too much info on what’s happened in the time since BB’s end, it does make one wonder why the high school of all places would be in such a bad state. Terry himself doesn’t seem to provide any info as he’s guiding JLU members through its halls, though it can be assumed that, for him, it’s no longer noteworthy.
13. Why did Bruce/Babs happen?
Probably the most controversial thing to come out of BB, the show revealed that Barbara Gordon and Bruce Wayne were once a couple. There’s no explanation, and no real reason, either – other than to emphasize that Barbara knows a thing or two about how hard keeping a relationship with Bruce can be. However, we’re pretty sure her being a member of the Bat-Family was enough to check off that box.
And that’s another thing: The Bat-Family is portrayed as a family, with Bruce the head and the Robins and Batgirl the apprentices. A father and his adopted children, if you will. There’s something really creepy and off about an older Bruce and a much younger Barbara getting together, especially when there’s no build-up to this out-of-nowhere revelation. Some BB comics would later continue touching upon this plot thread, but its latest appearance in the animated adaption of The Killing Joke (and the hostile reaction to it) just goes to show how unnerved fans are about it.
12. How did the future Justice League form (and why does it only consist of 5 or so members)?
Another mystery on par with the high school, the future of the DC universe seems to be a bit barren compared to the one seen in both JL and especially JLU. As seen in the two-part BB episode “The Call”, the Justice League is a functioning team, and while at the time of airing, it may have seemed pretty normal, retrospectively, it seems more than a bit off. JLU was the first time the League got so many other members on their team, but due to the (chronologically) older BB episode, the team seems to be severely lacking.
While Superman is still around, the group seems to have been greatly reduced (and the Watch Tower seems to no longer exist). They don’t even seem as big of a deal in this future. We could chalk that up to BB having come out before JL and JLU, but it can still seem really weird when looking at the DCAU as a whole.
11. The origins of Neo-Gotham?
In fairness to this one, it seems to be following the old trait of “show, don’t tell.” And yet, one might very well like to know how Gotham went from being perpetually Art Deco to very futuristic and on par with Metropolis less than fifty years later. Granted, it could be explained as just playing around with the trope of a future city looking so drastically different than its past incarnation (as seen in many a sci-fi film).
That said, there are a few things about Neo-Gotham that don’t really get addressed. Never mind some of the tech on display, but why do so many of the buildings feature Chinese characters on them? How far has the human race gotten in the future, exactly? Still, many of the mysteries of how Gotham came to be Neo aren’t explained, or even alluded to, leaving one to wonder how things got to this point in the future.
10. What ultimately happened to Bruce?
When we first meet Bruce Wayne in the future of BB, he’s very much an old man. He’s given up the mantle of Batman and has Terry take over for him, while Bruce plays the role of guy-in-the-chair (more on that in #3). He still goes out from time to time, uses a cane, has a canine companion, and can even handle himself when need be. Yet by the time we see him in the JLU episode “Epilogue”, it’s a surprise that he’s still alive and kicking; he looks like death and he’s popping pills.
The main question here is, well, what ultimately becomes of Bruce? “Epilogue” could have taken place with Bruce having passed on, but instead, we just see an older and sicker Bruce. While we know Terry will continue being the heroic Batman, we have no idea of what Bruce’s further future looks like, and as far as DCAU canon goes, it looks like we never will.
9. What’s the story with Harley?
It was a moment that only lasted a few seconds, but it brought up many question. In Return of the Joker, Dee Dee (twins Delia and Deidre Dennis) are picked up at the police station by a familiar sounding woman. She scolds them as she takes them away, and then they refer to her as “Nana Harley.” As a minor joke and nod, it’s understandable and makes enough sense in context, but it brings with it a mess of questions.
In-between the events as seen in Return of the Joker’s flashback and the main BB continuity, what happened to Harley? Can it be assumed that she gave up being a supervillain when the Joker died? Did she keep in contact with Poison Ivy? And how does she have grandkids? Did she ever have children of her own, are these two troublemakers adopted, what’s the deal? So many questions, next to no answers.
8. No more heroes?
Similar to the issue of the future Justice League, the world of BB seems to only consist of two types of heroes: Batman in Gotham, Nightwing in Bludhaven, and the Justice League everywhere else. It’d be understandable that Batman’s the main guy cleaning up Gotham, but even in the shows that came before it (Batman and Superman), the main heroes would come across other good guys who also saved the day in other parts of the world.
So what happened in this future BB is set in? Nothing in JL or JLU gives the implication that the heroes all up and vanished, yet the amount of do-gooders seems to have been greatly reduced. That Batman never met up with any other heroes in Neo-Gotham seems a bit odd, and even if you do count the future Justice League, that’s not a whole lot.
7. What became of Terry and Dana?
Now here’s one question that got semi-answered in JLU. “Epilogue” shows us that Terry and Dana continued to date well past whenever BB originally ended. What’s more, it’s implied (if not outright stated) that they’ve been dating for fifteen years (which makes one wonder when “Epilogue” takes place). However, the details of their relationship aren’t answered, aside from the fact that they got past the on-again-off-again part of it.
The episode in question, however, also ends with Terry calling Dana in the middle of the night to set-up a date. Through the miracle of visual storytelling, we see Terry’s holding a case with a ring in it, letting us know that he intends to pop the question and hopefully live happily ever after with Dana. Even so, whether any of that goes according to plan is never revealed, since the last we see of Terry is him flying through the skies as the Batman.
6. What happened to Derek Powers, aka Blight?
Talk about being put on a bus. Derek Powers (aka Blight) was a major villain and presence throughout BB’s first season, involving himself with both Bruce Wayne and Terry. He was a corrupt corporate exec who eventually got enough radiation in him to go full-on supervillain. But it all became too much, and his own son Paxton had to make sure he didn’t continue to cause any harm to the company, though Derek himself could go fall in a ditch for all he cared.
The season one finale “Ascension” is the last we see of Blight, where he goes down with a sinking submarine, but his body isn’t found. It’s a classic way to keep the door open for a character to return….except Blight is never seen again. Not including any BB comic appearances, Blight legitimately never makes his comeback, even though Paxton showed up a couple more times in later episodes. Did the show’s writers get tired of writing for the series’ best villain?
5. What happened to Inque and her daughter Deanna?
One of the most unique villains featured in BB, Inque is a bit of a tragic figure. She was created on accident, and isn’t even able to retain a human-like form at times. While she can evade enemies very easily, due to her ink-like movements, her weakness is the easy-to-get-ahold-of fluid that is water. Still, it didn’t stop her from committing crimes and reuniting with her daughter.
This last point is the subject of Inque’s last (and Deanna’s only appearance) on BB. She tries to reconcile with her daughter, but her daughter refuses, feeling wholly abandoned by her mother. Deanna tries to plot against her own mother, and seems to succeed. As we see Deanna relaxing by a pool, we see Inque hiding in the bushes behind her….and that’s the last we ever see of them. Way to leave us hanging!
4. How did the microchip that warped Tim’s mind also warp his face?
As seen in Return of the Joker, the titular Clown Prince of Crime (or someone who looks a lot like him) has returned to Gotham and is causing trouble. Bruce and Terry are understandably suspicious of this reincarnated Joker, but Bruce’s story of what happened to his last Robin—Tim Drake—leads to a revelation: a microchip that the Joker implanted in Tim to turn him Jokeresque all those years ago has been reactivated.
However, something that makes little sense is why the chip changes Tim’s face so drastically. As seen in the flashback, Tim as a kid still looked like Tim, just Jokerized. But by adulthood, he looks and sounds exactly like the original Joker. There’s no real explanation for this other than, well, they wanted the Joker to be recognizable…and they wanted to bring back Mark Hamill.
3. Was Bruce really able to keep track of Terry at all times?
As seen on BB, the suit Terry wears was designed by Bruce, and comes with a variety of features and enhancements. One of these features is the ability for Bruce to see what Terry sees – that is, what he’s able to see via the suit. This allows for Bruce to help Terry out and assist him whenever he may need it. So all in all, a very handy tool for an inexperienced Batman.
However, there’s been a few occasions that make one wonder why Bruce didn’t help or intervene, especially when it’d be most needed or helpful (Return of the Joker demonstrates how effective they can be when working together in this fashion). Whether it’s Terry getting into a jam or Terry about to do something he maybe shouldn’t, it seems odd that someone who’s supposedly always listening in can go relatively quiet when the plot decides he needs to be.
2. Supervillains that hate money
It’s a problem that’s plagued many a supervillain, and BB is no exception. The series has at least a couple baddies – Shriek and Spellbinder – who are able to create amazing technology, the likes of which (even in this show’s future) are impressive. The inventors themselves can be called geniuses for not just their work, but their strategies (against the Batman) and ability to adapt and create tech.
So why do some of them decide that being a supervillain is the way to go? Lex Luthor was able to both be a powerful businessman and inventor, as well as a supervillain, so what excuse do these less ambitious goons have? Ira Billings (Spellbinder) for example can create tech that easily hypnotizes, but instead of developing this tech for possible contractors or investors, he decided petty revenge is a way better career option. While in some cases, certain villains do create things and sell them off for profit, one might start to wonder why more of this villains don’t just go into (legitimate) business for themselves.
1. How was Project: Batman Beyond ever supposed to really work?
While it might be a bit much to say that the entire point of BB as a series is laid out in the JLU episode “Epilogue”, an elderly Amanda Waller sure makes it seem this way. With the mantra that “there must always be a Batman” (which is debatable), at some point before Terry became the new Dark Knight, Waller initiated Project: Batman Beyond, which involved taking Bruce’s DNA, injecting it into some man, having that man make a child, and then killing that child’s parents so that that child can grow up like Bruce and become Batman.
If that didn’t sound dumb enough, just wait till you realize that it didn’t go according to plan (because the would-be-murderer refused to kill Terry’s folks). Regardless, Terry ended up becoming the Batman anyway, completely out of chance. We can also talk about how having some of Bruce’s DNA somehow makes Terry Bruce’s son, but that seems like a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.
Seriously, Amanda Waller’s a genius and all, but this plot was asinine.
What other mysteries and plot threads in Batman Beyond continue to go unsolved? Let us know in the comments.
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