- "Good evening, residents of Joker Asylum. Some of our crazier guests have crashed the party early. And when I say crazy, I mean real psycho. Word of warning: if anyone sees a dribbling fool barking at the moon or maybe just purring like a kitten, do your civic duty. Walk up to them. Put your arm around them. Show them that you care before you wring their necks."
- ―The Joker[src]
Lunatics are highly feral and deranged patients of Arkham Asylum.
Batman: Arkham AsylumEdit
During the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the most hardcore and utterly deranged of the many grim cases at the asylum, known simply as Lunatics, were released from their cells by The Joker to serve as diversions for Batman while he perfected his plans to destroy Gotham. Among the oldest patients at the asylum, their reasoning faculties had been permanently warped by the inhuman torture and mutilation to which they had been subjected.
Arkham Asylum was originally built as a 500-bed psychiatric hospital. When its criminally insane populace became too large to treat effectively, Arkham staff began focusing on warehousing them in increasingly squalid conditions. Under Quincy Sharp's regime, "failed patients" who did not respond well to treatment were segregated from the general inmate populace in Arkham Island's decrepit penitentiary cell block. Largely neglected by the staff, these patients were kept in perpetual forms of restraint, such as straitjackets and locked gags, and subject to indefinite solitary confinement. Despite their violent nature, a number were held in communal cells, resulting in injury and death. The hazard posed by their escape was considered so potentially catastrophic that the penitentiary cell blocks became some of the most heavily guarded sites on the island, and could only be accessed by authorized personnel whose identities were verified by body scanner. Weapons were liberally stored in riot lockers overlooking the main cell block, which was also rebuilt with an electrified floor—known as a "patient pacification system"—to be activated in the event of a breakout.
The asylum became further overcrowded with the addition of hundreds of displaced convicts from the recently demolished Blackgate Prison, who were being held temporarily at Arkham pending transfer elsewhere. Upon the Joker's return, he and Harley Quinn orchestrated a mass escape of the Blackgate prisoners, including many of his own gang. The penitentiary was then overrun by the convicts, who massacred the guards. Batman arrived on the scene later that evening, intent on rescuing a captive Sharp from Quinn. The Joker waited until Batman had entered the penitentiary, then freed the maddened Lunatics. Without an armed security detail to subdue them or activate the pacification system, they quickly overran Arkham Island. Most were either killed by the Joker's men or Poison Ivy's mutated plants.
Following the Joker's defeat, the remaining Lunatics were sedated and returned to custody by Arkham orderlies.
Batman: Arkham CityEdit
In Batman: Arkham City, it was implied that Hugo Strange, a former Arkham psychiatrist, had created the Lunatics as a result of his unsuccessful experiments into behavioral control therapy. His procedures were controversial and to silence the test subjects, he had them lobotomized and locked up in the asylum penitentiary's cell blocks to be forgotten. At the inception of Arkham City, all asylum patients were slated to be moved to the new detention project. The Lunatics vanished, and according to Eddie Burlow, a former Arkham guard, Sharp was implicit in whatever happened to them. Several of their corpses were later observed by Batman in the ruins of Wonder City.
Strange continued his experiments on unwilling test subjects in Arkham City, personally selecting new inmates during processing for unethical medical procedures. Reduced to "dribbling monkeys", these individuals were then turned over to the Penguin, who tortured and killed them for his own amusement.
- According to Rocksteady environmental artist John Gravato, during Batman: Arkham Asylum's development the Lunatics were originally supposed to be infected with Titan. This concept was later omitted from the game's storyline.
- Jack Ryder was able to locate a former Arkham patient who apparently survived Strange's procedures and claimed the latter was responsible for causing his mental breakdown. Ryder was later imprisoned as a political prisoner inside Arkham City.
- Medical restraint masks similar to those appearing on the Lunatics were used by psychiatric hospitals in the nineteenth century, although they were fashioned entirely out of leather and incorporated no metal components as depicted. These took the form of full face masks, with eye apertures, nose guards, and a mouth cover with a button snap.
- One of the restraint masks worn by the Lunatics also resembles a scold's bridle.
- Some of the Lunatics are wearing ophthalmic specula, devices designed to keep the eyelids open and eyelashes out of the way when retinal procedures or nerve fiber analysis are being conducted.
- The style of straitjacket being worn by the Lunatics, incorporating a leather head harness fixed permanently to a thick leather collar on the jacket, was popular in Europe from the mid 1920s to 1930s. It is no longer in use.
- Shortly after the Lunatics are released, panicked gunfire and screams from the Joker's men as they attempt to defend themselves may be heard in Arkham North.
- Similarly crazed and feral Arkham inmates also appear in the video game adaptation of Batman Begins, which predates Batman: Arkham Asylum.