One may think that Joel Schumacher might have been the worst thing that ever happened to Gotham City, but coating the city in all kinds of weird neon graffiti actually doesn’t even scratch the surface of what has happened to Gotham and the Gothamites over the years. George Clooney, Coolio, cheesy puns from Mr. Freeze... what a rough history the city's had.
Within the pages of the comics, some people would have you believe that Batman himself is the reason for a lot of the havoc that has rained down Gotham over the years. However, it’s the Dark Knight at the gates, keeping his many enemies at bay. He couldn’t have inspired all of them! Still, there's no doubt that the city has been dealt a super bad hand over the years. Here are some of the worst things that have ever happened to Gotham and its residents.
10 No Man’s Land
After a massive earthquake nearly destroys the city, the government evacuates and declares Gotham a “no-man’s land.” Under President Luthor, the government refuses aid. With Bruce off trying to secure funds for Gotham, the watchful protector isn’t there to keep the peace and Gordon denounces Batman.
The criminals and the police carve up territory and the Blue Boys (GCPD) and members of the Bat-Family work their hardest to save the city. It all comes to a head when the Joker does what he does best: terrorizes Gordon. This time, he shoots his wife in the head after she scrambled to catch an infant that he tossed in the air.
There might not have been a snap of galaxy-halving proportions, but he events of "Batman: Endgame" are pretty nasty. The Joker returns to Gotham after the events of “Death Of The Family.” In that year, he learned that he’s practically immortal and has found a way to terrorize Gotham with an irreversible dose of Joker gas.
Besides having to deal with his Joker Venom-infected JLA brethren, Batman has to race to find a cure for a supposed incurable spread of Joker gas all throughout Gotham.
8 Zero Year
With parts of Gotham City destroyed due to flooding and a younger, inexperienced Batman missing and assumed dead, the Riddler swoops in for his grand scheme.
He took over Gotham and devised a series of riddles for Batman to solve in order to save the city and jump-start power in Gotham. A spent Batman still finds the will to hook himself up to the Riddler’s electrode and pump electricity back through Gotham with his own pulse.
7 Contagion / Legacy
A mysterious disease called the Clench (or the Apocalypse Plague) is en route to Gotham. While Batman and his allies are quick to try and stop it, the disease is released, turning lots of Gotham’s citizens into monsters.
The contagion claimed the lives of countless citizens, and almost spelled Tim Drake's demise as well. Thanks to Azrael, the Dark Knight and company are able to find a cure, but not before it was too late for many. Both "Contagion" and "Legacy" left Gotham in pieces, allowing the events of "Cataclysm" and "No Man’s Land" to take place.
Years and years of all kinds of grisly goings-on in Gotham have brought things in the city to a head. After Gordon inadvertently causes a subway collision, he is sent to Blackgate while awaiting trial.
He was framed, and the investigation to figure out who was responsible was just the tip of the iceberg. Gotham descends into chaos if not all-out mob war, and several of Batman’s rogues make an attempt to break both Gotham and the Dark Knight.
5 Arkham War
This DC crossover event saw the Penguin finally become the mayor of Gotham. He divides the city into territories. The Arkham Asylum inmates are about to wage war with the inmates of Blackgate and there’s no Batman in sight to stave off the violence.
It’s the kind of event that makes you wonder: why does anyone live in Gotham City at all?
4 Battle For The Cowl
Bruce Wayne gave his life to save everyone during the events of Final Crisis... or did he? He was actually transported far back in time and had to work his way back.
In the interim, Gotham City was without its ever-present and vigilant symbol of hope. More and more criminals had realized that the Batman was gone, leaving villains like Two-Face to expand his territory and wage war on the Penguin, who was doing the same. The remaining members of the Bat-family realize that they can't keep the peace and the city's citizens as safe as they could with Batman, and they decide that someone needs to take up Bruce's mantle.
3 War Games
Batman has contingency plans on top of contingency plans. His craziest one might be the one enacted in War Games. The idea was to unite all of Gotham’s criminals under the rule of Matches Malone, one of Bruce’s own secret identities. It might have been nice to clue his new Robin, Stephanie Brown, in on this play.
After she is fired by Batman, she tries to get back into his good graces and tries to enact the plan without Matches being there. When that goes horribly wrong, several mob bosses are gunned down, and she is kidnapped, tortured, and murdered at the hands of Gotham’s newest crime lord - Black Mask.
2 The Dark Knight Returns
With the Batman in the midst of a ten-year hiatus, the city has not only gone to heck, but it’s also fallen under the control of the Mutants, not to mention Two-Face, and several other villains are ransacking the city. Batman comes out of retirement to join the fray, but that also reawakens the Joker.
Meanwhile, an attack and EMP strike wipes out all communications, leaving Batman and the new Robin turning their former Mutant enemies into their own army to help stem the tide.
1 Night Of The Monster Men
One of the most fun aspects of any comic book story is that... it’s a comic book! So, while Gotham City and Batman have been through all sorts of doom and gloom over the years, sometimes you just want to have a good old fashioned monster story take center stage!
Night Of The Monster Men features the Bat-family facing off against a bunch of monsters that were created by Hugo Strange. It's novel, that's for sure, but it's yet another calamity for our heroes to try and avert.