General Information
Official name: Bat-Signal
First Appearance: Detective Comics #60
Creators: Bob Kane
Jack Schiff
Type: Modified Klieg Searchlight
Used by: Gotham City Police Department
"The signal goes on and he shows up. That's the way it's been, that's the way it will be."
James Gordon[src]

The Batsignal (or Bat-Signal) is a distress signal device appearing in the various interpretations of the Batman mythos. It is a specially modified Klieg searchlight with a stylized symbol of a bat attached to the light so that it projects a large Bat emblem on the sky or buildings of Gotham City.

In the stories, the signal is used by the Gotham City Police Department as a method of contacting and summoning Batman to their assistance in the event of a serious crisis and as a weapon of psychological intimidation to the numerous villains of Gotham City.



The fictional origin of the signal varies between timeline and media. It made its first appearance in Detective Comics #60, February 1942. In the 1989 Batman film, Batman gave the signal to the police as a gift enabling them to call him when the city is in danger; in 2005's Batman Begins, then-detective James Gordon creates his own signal light, inspired by an incident when Batman strapped the defeated mobster Carmine Falcone to a large searchlight, which created a roughly bat-like image from the light's beam due to Carmine's tattered coat.

In the comic's post-Crisis continuity, the signal was introduced after the Batman's first encounter against the Joker (not unlike the first movie) in Batman: The Man Who Laughs; in Batman and the Mad Monk, Gordon initially used a pager, but during a meeting with Batman he threw it away, saying that he couldn't sneak around in the shadows like Batman and wanted a more above-board means of contacting him.

In Batman: The Animated Series, it was introduced in the episode "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy". In The Batman, Gordon invented it to summon Batman in "Night in the City" (it was somewhat similar to the 2005 film).

Used by OthersEdit

Batsignal-schumacher films

The Bat-Signal as seen in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.

Others have used the Bat-Signal for their own purposes.

In the "Lovers and Madmen" story arc from Batman Confidential, which retells the origin of the Joker and his first encounter with Batman, Batman sees the Bat-Signal for the first time and assumes that Gordon created it to ask for his help in battling the Joker. When he reaches the rooftop, however, he finds that the Joker actually created it, and used it to force a confrontation with Batman.

In Detective Comics #466 (1976), the villainous Signalman manages to trap the Batman inside the Bat-Signal device. 

In Legends of the Dark Knight #6, a cadre of crime bosses projects the signal upside down in order to summon Batman to help them fight a killer they can't defeat. In the Halloween special comic series, Haunted Knight, Scarecrow alters the Bat-Signal to notify Batman that he has kidnapped then-Captain Jim Gordon. By adding an orange bulb and painting "eyes" on the signal, he turns the beam into a stylized Jack-o'-lantern image (with the bat symbol forming the mouth beneath two eyes).

Gordon O'Hara Bullock Bat-Signal1

The Bat-Signal as depicted in Batman #700. From left to right: Harvey Bullock, James Gordon, and Clancy O'Hara.

In Batman: Dark Victory, Hangman sneaks onto the roof of Police Headquarters and turns the Bat-Signal on to lure then-recently appointed Commissioner James Gordon to the roof and try to kill him, but is thwarted when Two-Face cuts Gordon down.

Near the beginning of the Batman: No Man's Land story arc, a junior officer creates an improvised Bat-Signal out of spare parts. Gordon smashes it to pieces as he is angry that Batman hasn't shown up. Oracle also builds a small Bat-Signal to summon Batman to talk to her after having seen Huntress wearing a Batgirl costume.

In the comic book series Gotham Central, the purpose of the Bat-Signal is further expanded upon; as Batman's existence is not officially recognized by the Gotham City authorities, the Bat-Signal is explained as a method of using the "urban legend" around Batman to terrify Gotham's criminal underworld.

Thebatman2004 signal 2

The signal in The Batman.

As official proven police interaction with the Bat-Signal and Batman himself can lead to cases against criminals arrested by Batman being dismissed, it is up to the civilian employees of the Gotham police department (including the Major Case Squad's civilian attache, Stacy) to operate the signal officially. Owing to the events in the "War Crimes" storyline, relations between Batman and the Gotham City Police Department under Commissioner Michael Akins are officially severed; the Bat-Signal is removed from the roof of Gotham Central. Needing Batman's help on an extraordinary case, Akins brings out a spare bat signal for a single use.

This signal is a more sophisticated laser which paints a green bat symbol in the clouds and is apparently more visible. This version of the signal is donated by Kord Industries (see the Blue Beetle). The laser signal is said to have been unused because the city council deems it an "inappropriate gift." (The characters are notably unimpressed by the more high tech version.)

In the 52 series, The Question alters the traditional Bat-Signal to project a spray-painted question mark. In the One Year Later series, however, with the re-installation of James Gordon as commissioner, relations with Batman appear to have thawed; upon Batman's return from one year of self-imposed exile, the Bat-Signal (restored to the roof of police headquarters) is activated once again. The familiar sight of the Bat symbol in the sky prompts cheers from most of the citizens of Gotham.

In Other MediaEdit

Television Edit

Batman (1960s series) Edit


The 1960's Batsignal of the TV Series.

Like in the comic books, it was used at night to call on Batman for help.

In the 1966 Batman film, Robin asked Commissioner James Gordon to get Chief O'Hara to activate it as a distraction so that the criminals would think that they were headed for Police Headquarters.

The Batsignal was rarely used because the Commissioner usually contacted Batman in the daytime with his Batphone.

The Bat symbol in the sky was also used in the end credits of every episode and was seen on the access menu of the special edition DVD release of the film.

Live-Action FilmsEdit

Burton FilmsEdit

Bat 100

The Batsignal as seen at the end of Batman.

"Please inform the citizens of Gotham that Gotham City has earned a rest from crime. But if the forces of evil should rise again, to cast a shadow on the heart of the city, call me."
―Batman's letter to the GCPD.[src]

In Batman, Batman gave the Batsignal to the GCPD after the death of The Joker as a gift so that when he was needed, they could summon him.

In Batman Returns, Bruce had automated mirrors stationed up around the top of Wayne Manor that would reflect the signal directly through the window of his study. It was seen when Commissioner James Gordon needed his help when the Red Triangle Gang attacked Gotham Plaza during the the initial Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Schumacher FilmsEdit


Batsignal above Gotham skyline

"You called me here for this? The Bat-Signal is not a beeper."
―Batman to Chase Meridian[src]
Riddler Batsignal

The Riddler's altered Batsignal.

In Batman Forever, the criminal psychologist Dr. Chase Meridian used the Batsignal to call Batman in order to seduce him. Batman was slightly peeved at her usage of the Batsignal as a mere "beeper". A music video for Kiss from a Rose, also from the film and was directed by Schumacher, featured singer Seal performing the song while he stood beside the Batsignal.

Also in Batman Forever, The Riddler altered the Batsignal by projecting a question mark into the sky with the original bat symbol forming the dot at the base. Similarly, in Batman: Dark Victory, after he brokered a tentative alliance with Batman, the Riddler changed the signal, and projected a question mark into the sky in order to let Batman know that he had an answer for him.

Gotham City Batman & Robin

The Robinsignal that was made by Poison Ivy.

In Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy acquired the location and keys to the Batsignal after she seduced Commissioner Gordon who revealed information about it. Ivy and Bane removed the Batsignal from the top of GCPD Headquarters and took it back to her lair.

Ivy then altered the Batsignal by changing the Bat-symbol to a Robin-symbol in order to lure Robin into a trap. However, Robin was able to trick Ivy into revealing Mr. Freeze's plan to freeze Gotham City. At the end of the film, the Batsignal was later destroyed by Bane, but it was repaired before the credits.

Nolan FilmsEdit

Nolan batsiganl-batmanbegins

The Nolanverse Batsignal.

Nolan Batsignal-high-resolution-snapshot

The Batsignal in The Dark Knight, moments before it was taken down by Commissioner Gordon.

In Batman Begins, Batman initially 'improvised' a Batsignal by draping crime boss Carmine Falcone over a spotlight at the docks after he defeated him, and his spread-out trench coat made the light look like a bat. At the conclusion of the film, Lieutenant James Gordon created the actual Batsignal to call Batman to the roof for a talk, although he jokingly commented that he only used it because they couldn't find any mob bosses to strap to it.

In The Dark Knight, Gordon used the Batsignal to remind Gotham of Batman's presence. The Batsignal proved to be very effective, with drug dealers and criminals who became apprehensive at its appearance. However, since the GCPD were supposed to be tracking Batman, they chalked it up to "light problems" when it was used. At the end of the film, after he agreed to blame Batman for the murders that were committed by Harvey Dent in order to preserve the latter's image as Gotham's hero, Gordon destroyed the Batsignal in front of various members of the GCPD and the Gotham press.


Rebuilt Batsignal in The Dark Knight Rises.

In The Dark Knight Rises, at the beginning, Gordon was seen contemplating Harvey Dent over the heavily rusted remains of the searchlight. At the end, a new rebuilt Batsignal was installed in its place, which surprised Gordon, though it honored Batman, but had no use, as Batman was presumed dead.


DC Animated UniverseEdit

"You've a call on your private line."
―Alfred Pennyworth to Batman[src]

The Batsignal in Batman: The Animated Series.

In Batman: The Animated Series, Barbara Gordon used it to contact Batman in "Heart of Steel Part II" when she believed that an impostor had replaced her father. At that meeting, the Batsignal was partially destroyed when Batman was attacked by a Harvey Bullock duplicate, and Barbara usesd Batman's Grapple Gun to pull the robot into the signal, and electrocuted it. Likewise, the real Harvey Bullock used the Batsignal for the first time when he reluctantly asked for Batman's help in discovering who tried to kill him in "A Bullet for Bullock".

In the film that was based on the aforementioned series, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman was hunted by GCPD on suspicions that he had murdered several gang lords, and Bullock, under orders from Councilman Arthur Reeves, tried to use the Batsignal to lure him in. Batman, after he knew that it was a trap, did not respond.

In Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis destroyed the Batsignal after it was used for the first time in years by Paxton Powers, the son of Derek Powers, who used the signal to contact Batman with the intention of using him to locate and deal with his father.

Video GamesEdit

Batman: Arkham AsylumEdit


The Batsignal in Arkham City.

In Batman: Arkham Asylum, the Batsignal was first seen in the sky while Batman drove the Batmobile through Gotham to deliver The Joker to Arkham Asylum. To escape Scarecrow 's-induced nightmares, Batman sneaked through the remains of Arkham and defeated a gigantic Scarecrow by aiming the Batsignal at him. During the second encounter with Scarecrow, Batman relived the death of his parents, where he knelt down to his parents as an 8 year old Bruce and a Batsignal shined on him.


The Batsignal in Arkham Knight.

Batman: Arkham CityEdit

In Batman: Arkham City, the Batsignal was used as a waypoint in the sky, and hovered as an objective marker while Batman roamed Arkham City. The original Batsignal light was found on the roof of the old GCPD Building at Amusement Mile (as the subject of a Riddle).

Batman: Arkham KnightEdit

In Batman: Arkham Knight, Commissioner James Gordon used the Batsignal to contact Batman about the evacuation of Gotham's citizens and Scarecrow's plans.

Batman: The Telltale Series Edit

Batsignal Telltale

Batsignal in Batman: The Telltale Series.

In Batman: The Telltale Series Episode 3 "New World Order", Lieutenant James Gordon mounting a search light with Batman's symbol onto the roof of the GCPD building, hoping to get the vigilante's attention. First time he used it to informed Batman that Montoya, who had been forced to take leave following the murder of Falcone, has gone rogue to follow up on Intel leaked about the Children of Arkham transporting chemicals. Second time, during the attack of Dent's enforcers (if Batman stop The Penguin in Episode 4), Gordon is shot, but manages to get to the roof and activate the Batsignal, in the hope that it will call Batman.

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