Ask me what my favorite episode of Batman: The Animated Series (and its two rebrands, The Adventures Of Batman & Robin and The New Batman/Superman Adventures where it merged with Superman: The Animated Series) and it would be tough for me to answer. For one thing I haven’t seen the show in years and for another there were so many good episodes I could list some of my favorites but not my absolute favorite or the one I would consider the best of the show. Ask Owen of YouTube channel Owen Likes Comics (strange that so many of his videos I’ve featured here at the Spotlight haven’t even been about comics, but shows and movies based on them) and he would tell you “Beware The Gray Ghost”, a season one episode that brought Adam West back to the Caped Crusader for the first time since Super Power Team: Galactic Guardians, only this time working alongside him as Batman’s inspiration. In a sense.
The Gray Ghost was inspired by the pulp heroes that in turn inspired Bob Kane’s concept and Bill Finger’s design of Batman and the early stories he was a part of. The oblivious fiancé and carrying a gun slowly disappeared but the other ideas remained in the character’s core conception. By bringing Adam West in to voice the character however the show went beyond how it usually uses famous actors in their role. They were all actors who could do good voice acting but they all added something to the likes of the Mad Hatter or Two-Face. West brings along the history, having played the role in the popular 60s TV series that brought Batman and Robin out of obscurity better than the serials had as well as two different animated shows, Filmation’s The New Adventures Of Batman as well as the Hanna-Barbera Superfriends/Super Powers Team. (Which makes that two times West took over the role from Olan Soule, the second time having Soule transfer over to Professor Stein, one half of Firestorm.) In this video Owen goes over the story of the episode and how the inclusion of West makes a good tale of Batman’s childhood hero and partial inspiration (sorry, Zorro) into a great episode.
While West did get a few roles, even dramatic ones that weren’t in B-movies, after the 60s Batman aired after this episode his career seemed to go up in comedic realms oddly enough. This was primarily in voices roles as he played a parody of himself in Johnny Bravo and a possibly not him recurring role in Family Guy. He even played a knockoff version of Batman in an episode of Kim Possible when Ron becomes his sidekick. However, his renewed popularity as Batman led him to honor the show in Return To The Batcave: The Misadventures Of Adam West And Burt Ward, featuring other survivors actors from the show Julie Newmar and Frank Gorshin, and returning to the role proper in two direct-to-video animated movies and playing Thomas Wayne in an episode of Batman: The Brave & The Bold among other Bat-appearances before West passed away in 2017. Instead of hating the role, like Simon Trent he learned to love his version of the hero that once stuck him in the deadliest trap ever…typecasting.