The pilot episode, titled “Rebirth”, begins in 2019, where an aging Batman, equipped with a high-tech Batsuit, takes on the kidnappers of Bunny Vreeland (the daughter of Veronica Vreeland, one of Bruce Wayne’s girlfriends). During the battle, Batman suffers a heart attack which leaves him unable to fight, forcing him to betray a life-long principle by threatening a criminal with a gun. By this point, Bruce Wayne’s assistants, Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox and Commissioner Gordon, have passed away. It is implied by virtue of his lengthy career as Batman, and his retaining the Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl costumes, that a tragic occurrence had transpired that caused Bruce to sever his ties with the Justice League and forbade his allies to assume their alter-egos (the events which caused all of this are revealed in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker). Ultimately, Bruce reluctantly decides that his time as Batman is over and vows “never again” as he shutters the Batcave.
The story fast-forwards to 2039 in Neo-Gotham, a futuristic megalopolis featuring staggering high rises and flying vehicles. Bruce Wayne is a recluse living in bitter isolation in Wayne Manor with no companion but his guard dog, Ace. Terry McGinnis is an athletic 17-year-old high school student and reformed troublemaker with a deeply ingrained sense of personal justice, but is currently not on good terms with his father. His first act in the series is to defend a fellow passenger on a commuter rail from a member of the Jokerz gang. After trying to defend his girlfriend from a gang of Jokerz, Terry engages in a high-speed chase which ends on the grounds of Wayne Manor, where he runs into the elderly Bruce Wayne. Bruce and Terry fend off the Jokerz side-by-side, but the exertion aggravates Bruce’s heart condition. Terry helps Bruce back to the manor, and, after Bruce nods off for a bit, stumbles upon the entrance to the Batcave. He is chased out by a recovered and angered Bruce.
Terry returns home to discover that his father had been murdered, apparently by the vengeful Jokerz. Soon after, he finds out that the man actually responsible for the murder was Mr. Fixx, the bodyguard of Derek Powers—CEO of a merged Wayne-Powers and his father’s employer—because he possessed knowledge of illegal chemical weapons being produced by Powers. Terry goes to Bruce for help, but Bruce refuses, feeling he is too old and too weak to be of any use. Terry then “borrows” the Batsuit, intending to bring Powers to justice. Bruce initially opposes all of Terry’s efforts and vehemently demands Terry return the suit (at one point paralyzing the suit while Terry is wearing it and in the midst of combat), but Terry convinces Bruce to let him take on the Batman mantle, and he subsequently defeats Mr. Fixx. Realizing that crime and corruption are running rampant in Gotham without Batman’s presence, Bruce offers Terry the chance to assume the role of Batman.