1. ‘Gotham’ introduces Joker, kills him, resurrects him, kills him again, introduces twin brother Joker and then appears to kill him twice.
Although they never refer to him as ‘Joker’, Jerome Valeska, played by Cameron Monaghan, checked all the boxes. Until, at least, he died. It appeared that Jerome was meant to be an inspiration for someone else to adopt the Joker persona. Suddenly, Jerome was brought back to life and with him the fans’ belief in the proto-Joker. It’s unclear whether his resurrection was the plan all along or if the character’s popularity earned him a second life, but ‘Gotham’ doubled down on Monaghan’s ability to depict the Clown Prince by introducing Jeremiah Valeska, Jerome’s twin brother. Jerome drives Jeremiah mad just before dying a second time. Jeremiah is clearly meant to become the real Joker, which is why fans were skeptical that he would be killed off when stabbed by Selina or later dumped into the trademark vat of Ace Chemicals. This is a journey only possible in a dark soap opera as crazy as ‘Gotham.’
2. The Riddler gets a love interest identical to the one he just killed and barely comments on the fact that she’s identical.
Remember when Ed Nygma was just a creepy forensic scientist? Back then he fell hard for one Kristen Kringle who he accidentally killed. It was a typical sacrifice of a female character for a lead’s development as seen on more typical programs. ‘Gotham’ is anything but typical. The Kringle actress, Chelsea Spack, returned to the show, but as a different character who becomes Nygma’s love interest with barely anyone mentioning that she looks exactly like the other woman! Imagine if ‘Friends’ killed off Rachel only to have Jennifer Aniston play Ross’s new girl. Welcome to crazy town. The new girl’s dead now too.
3. Penguin falls in love with the Riddler.
File under “didn’t see that coming” is Oswald’s infatuation with Ed Nygma. A gay Penguin is a welcome addition, but we had little to tip us off outside of actor Robin Lord Taylor’s own lifestyle. What Taylor brought to the character has become so popular, I wouldn’t be surprised if Copplepot’s new orientation does not make its way to other media. We’ll see.
4. ‘Gotham’ made a gangster become Solomon Grundy and then made him back into a gangster.
Butch Gilzean had a long henchman career which eventually blossomed into running his own crime organization. After Barbara Kean shoots Butch, we find out that his real name is Cyrus Gold. Why Cyrus Gold? Because that’s what Solomon Grundy’s name is in the comics. The following season Butch returns from the dead as a dumb strongman. Forcing one of the few original characters into the role of an established DC Comics villain felt a bit clunky, but what is truly inexplicable is that ‘Gotham’ undoes it! Butch reverts back to his smarter, weaker self and then gets himself shot dead again. What a waste.
5. Gotham’s insane social dynamics.
In five seasons many characters have cycled between trying to kill each other and working together. Hell, many have successfully killed each other and then worked together. How does one diagram the relationship of Penguin and Butch? Penguin and Gordon? Penguin and anyone? But none embody this more than Barbara Kean who really deserves her own spot on this list.
6. The journey of Barbara Kean.
Barbara Kean began the show as Jim Gordon’s sane fiancée. After she was terrorized by Gotham gangsters, she and Jim engaged in mutual infidelity. Things really went downhill when The Ogre brainwashes Barb into killing her parents. This, along with trying to kill Jim’s new girlfriend, lands Barbara in Arkham before breaking out with the proto-Joker. The two of them start a gang with super-criminal Theo Galavan called The Maniax where she embraces full insanity. There’s a coma and some evil therapy by Hugo Strange and she’s back on the streets. Barbara starts a nightclub which eventually leads to enough double crosses to make her the queen of Gotham’s underworld. The double crosses catch up with her when once lover and partner, Tabitha Galavan, electrocutes her dead. She’s brought back to life by Ra’s al Ghul and given Demon’s Head mojo so that when Ra’s dies, she becomes the leader of the ninja supergroup The League of Shadows. Ra’s is resurrected and she kills him again. Throughout all this, fans are asking…what about Batgirl? We know that Barbara and Jim birth the future Batgirl, but how could this happen given how diametrically opposed the two have become legally, mentally and spiritually? The answer is a one night stand. Tada!
7. Perhaps too many identicals.
This list has already mentioned that Jerome Valeska has a twin and Kris Kringle has a doppelgänger, but let’s not forget that Bruce Wayne has a clone. Subject 514A was made in the deus ex machina factory known as Indian Hill. He stirs up trouble for a while and just… goes away. It’s worth noting that Indian Hill also made both Basil Karlo and Jane Doe, not one but two otherwise unrelated shapeshifters who add to the look-a-like madness.
8. They built a submarine over the length of a few episodes.
Edward Nygma, a smart guy with no engineering background, learns how to make a submarine from scratch and fabricates all the required parts. With unlimited resources, this is a crazy achievement but at this point, Oswald has fewer resources and manpower to provide Nygma due to the barricade and disarray of Gotham. People barely have bread, much less alloyed steel and industrial infrastructure.
9. Bruce killed Alfred.
Sure, young Batman was being influenced and Alfred was immediately brought back to life via a Lazarus pit, but it was still a shocking moment. It’d be like Bruce shooting his own parents.
10. The military bombs Gotham.
The US Government eventually recognizes that Gotham is too much for a city police department to handle, but instead of restoring order, they refuse to let anyone in or out, including aid. The government basically sees bombs going off in the city and opts to add to the destruction with a few air strikes of their own. We eventually find out that Nyssa Al Ghul is partly responsible for the military orders, but… is an al Ghul in the White House too? Bombing US soil can’t look good come re-election.
Gotham, it’s a bad place to visit and no one should live there. What are your stand-out ‘Gotham’ moments? Let us know in the comments!