Birds of Prey (2002–2003)
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Unaired Pilot 

A duo of female crime fighters, protégés of Batman, gets a new member while investigating a strange series of deaths caused by fear. This unaired pilot was reedited and the role of Dr. Harleen Quinzel recast to create the new pilot.


Brian Robbins


Laeta Kalogridis (developer), Laeta Kalogridis

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Ashley Scott ... Helena Kyle / The Huntress
Dina Meyer ... Barbara Gordon / Oracle / Batgirl
Rachel Skarsten ... Dinah Lance
Shemar Moore ... Jesse Reese
Sherilyn Fenn ... Dr. Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn
Ian Abercrombie ... Alfred Pennyworth
Shawn Christian ... Wade Brixton
Aaron Paul ... Jerry
Chris Ellis ... Larry Ketterly
Brent Sexton ... Detective McNally
Roger Stoneburner ... The Joker
Maria Quiban Maria Quiban ... Newscaster
AJ Michalka ... Young Dinah (as Amanda Michalka)
Maggie Baird ... Mother
Joe Lala Joe Lala ... Crowley


A duo of female crime fighters, protégés of Batman, gets a new member while investigating a strange series of deaths caused by fear. This unaired pilot was reedited and the role of Dr. Harleen Quinzel recast to create the new pilot.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

2 October 2002 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Actor Bruce Thomas, who portrayed Batman in the OnStar commercials, is often credited with playing Batman in the pilot episode, but Thomas himself has said it was not him. See more »


When Barbara is in her classroom for the first time, on the chalkboard behind her the names of several authors can be seen. Among them is the name "Jane Austin" but the correct spelling is "Jane Austen". (Unless one says that the show takes place in a fictional universe, and in this fictional universe there may - in addition to authors who bear the same names as in our universe - exist a fictional author called "Jane Austin".) See more »


[first lines]
Newscaster: New Gotham police claim to have dismantled the largest organized crime ring in the city's history tonight after a fire-fight in the city dockyards resulting in an explosions that were visible for miles. Rumors persist that the real target was a shadowy madman known only as the Joker.
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A Thousand Miles
Performed by Vanessa Carlton
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User Reviews

WB hated the original pilot but picked up the series for 13 episodes
25 March 2006 | by dan-1315See all my reviews

What's interesting about the unaired pilot is seeing what the original concept of the series was before the WB network started dictating changes for the short-lived series. Co-Executive Producer/Writer Hans Tobeason has said that it was a wonder that the show developed die-hard fans because it was a constant struggle between the WB network, DC Comics, the Warner Bros. TV and Warner Bros. movie divisions, and the Tollin/Robbins production company about the direction of the show and the way they wanted the characters portrayed.

The WB hated Oracle/Batgirl being in a wheel chair and wanted to push the younger Huntress character to attract the young adult audience. The writers didn't know what to do with the Dinah character, since she didn't have any super physical abilities, and they debated writing her out of the series. DC Comics nixed the use of any of the major DC characters, and the writers could only reference minor ones. The Warner Bros. movie division told the TV division hands off Batman and the Joker. The TV division had them shoot on the Warner lot instead of Toronto, which limited the scope of what they could do. Stories with non-meta villains were vetoed. The writers were exiled from the set and the production offices. The network wanted Harley Quinn dropped at one point. On and on.

The pilot differs from the first episode in a number of interesting ways. The biggest change is the re-shooting of all of Sherilyn Fenn's scenes with Mia Sara as Harley Quinn. Fenn is obviously miscast, reciting her lines as if comatose, and showing none of the required "evil genius" qualities that Sara brilliantly brings out in the broadcast version.

The opening of the pilot is more hard-hitting than the aired episode. The introductory sequence uses a newscaster reporting the break-up of the Joker's crime syndicate in New Gotham and the murder of Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman. Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, sees this report on the TV and hears a knock at the door. She assumes it is Kyle's daughter Helena coming to her for help, but instead the Joker is there with a gun, shoots her, and leaves her for dead.

The visuals for the beginning are basically the same in the broadcast version, minus the newscaster footage, but the sequence is softened by having Alfred the butler narrate the events as if they were a flashback sequence.

The pilot then pretty much follows the same path as the first episode with a bit of editing here and there, and the insertion of the new scenes with Mia Sara as Harley Quinn. A major variance is an early scene where Barbara Gordon is actually breaking up with her boyfriend of six months, Wade Brixton, while the broadcast version substitutes a scene where Wade is asking Gordon out for the first time, thus creating a romantic sub-plot for the 13 episodes. This break-up scene was actually used in a later show to save money.

A minor variance is that in the broadcast version, a grown-up Helena Kyle blurts out that her father is Bruce Wayne in a session with Harley Quinn while in the pilot, Kyle is much more elusive and doesn't name names.

Although there's not a great deal of difference between the two versions, overall, the pilot pulls the viewer into the world of New Gotham quicker, while the broadcast version tries to explain things more, which is what the network insisted on.

This pilot showed great potential and succeeded in creating a fully realized comic book world. The various pressures put on the writers pulled subsequent shows in the direction of Smallville with freak-of-the-week plots and Helena Kyle coming to grips with being a meta-human in much the same way as Clark Kent has to embrace being Superboy.

After the series was officially canceled, the writers were relatively free from interference, and the show finale "Devil's Eyes" brought the series back to where it started, as an exciting super hero comic book show.

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